NBA Players Association director Michele Roberts addressed several questions surrounding the vaccination of union members, but wanted to keep any opinions on Nets star Kyrie Irving mostly to herself.
Irving so far has been hesitant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. He would miss home games in Brooklyn if he does not receive it.
“I’m not going comment on Kyrie because that’s what Kyrie will be doing, making a decision,’’ Roberts told Marc Berman of the New York Post. “But I will say you guys need to stop focusing on the 20-plus players who are not vaccinated.
“Our numbers are 95, 96 percent [vaccinated]. That well beats the national average. What you need to do is ask what we can do to get the rest of the country to do what our players have done.”
Roberts did add that she would like to see all of the players receive their shots and for the league to reach a vaccination rate of 100 percent.
“Will we get to 100 percent?’ I don’t know,” she said, via Berman. “Maybe we will, maybe we won’t. But we’re still trying. But at this point I’m not ashamed about our players or asking forgiveness. Because we’re doing way better than the rest of the world. Not just the country and New York City.’’
Fellow Nets star Kevin Durant said he has not advised Irving on whether to receive the vaccine.
“This is his decision; that’s his choice,” Durant said, via Brian Lewis of the Post. “We all respected it. This is way bigger than hoops. So I don’t feel comfortable talking to him about stuff like this. But I’m just here to support and to come in here and do my job as one of the leaders on the team, and when things get figured out I’ve got trust and I hope that it’ll get figured out.”
Durant, Irving and James Harden again have made the Nets a favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference.
“He’s a special player and person and we want him to be part of this group,” Durant said of Irving. “But a lot of stuff’s out of our control. We’ll let him figure that out for himself. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to say I don’t want him on the team. He’s a huge part of what we do.”
Roberts told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News that she doesn’t feel as if unvaccinated players should be docked pay.
The league recently indicated players would be docked 1/91.6th of their salaries if they’re unable to play due to a local vaccine mandate.
“We’ll see about that,” Roberts told Bondy. “They’ve been reporting that we’ve agreed that if a player who was not able to play because of his non-vaccination status, they could be docked (pay). We did not agree. The league’s position is that they can. We’ll see. If we get to that point, we’ll see.”