A day after the Nets officially declared Kyrie Irving a non-factor until he gets vaccinated or local mandates change, head coach Steve Nash and his players were ready to move on with their new reality.
The Nets announced on Tuesday that Irving cannot rejoin the team for games or practices until he is vaccinated against COVID-19. The guard had already been barred from home games at Barclays Center because of New York City vaccine mandates, but the Nets took the other half of games into their own hands, deciding that they would not allow him to be a part-time player.
“It was a difficult decision,” Nash said Wednesday. “But I think it was a sound one and one that makes complete sense to everyone. We are just going to have to move on. And, if things change, it will be incredible to have him back in the fold. But it was a tenuous situation to have a player in and out like that. So, there’s more clarity and we can focus on the future and keep going.”
The team practiced Wednesday for the first time since getting clarity on Irving’s situation – less than a week away from the season opener – and said their end goal of winning a championship remained unchanged.
“Kyrie believes in his beliefs and he stands firm and strong on that,” James Harden said. “For us, we respect it. We all love Ky. But as far as us, we have a job to do. Individually, myself, I’m still wanting to set myself up for a championship.
“And I feel like the entire organization is on the same path. As a collective unit, we’ll keep pushing forward and we’ll try to do our best every single day to get better.”
That unit will not include Irving, the seven-time All-Star point guard whom Nash and Harden said they had not spoken to since the decision came down.
Nash said he briefly addressed the team before Wednesday’s practice about the news.
“Now just every single game, you’ve got guys that know what their role is,” Harden said. “Consistently, what they’re supposed to be doing night in and night out.”