Unvaccinated Kyrie Irving says he’ll continue to fight against mandates

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MIAMI — Kyrie Irving said he hasn’t forgotten his unvaxxed brethren.

Granted special exemption from vaccine rules and set to make his Brooklyn season debut Sunday, Irving advocated for the broader removal of mandates.

“I’ve been saying from the beginning with all this, it’s never been just about me, and any special privilege or exemption,” the Nets point guard said. “I think there are a lot of people dealing with real consequences from being unvaccinated. And I don’t think it’s talked about enough in terms of our essential workers and people on the frontlines, and it’s just it’s a whole community of us that really want to stand together.

“And though I’m very appreciative of Mayor Adams doing what he did, and everyone in our Nets organization, everyone sending in notes to the mayor and tweets or Instagram posts or wherever you call it. You know, now is the time to really get all of us included and get everybody back to work so we get some normalcy around here. But I know everybody still feels it, and there’s a whole community of people that have lost their jobs due to this mandate as well. And I’m just putting care out for them most importantly, and standing alongside of them.”

Irving represented the highest-profile person unable to work because he refused the COVID-19 vaccine, garnering public support from GOP figures Ted Cruz and Donald Trump Jr. Just last week, Cruz invited Irving to play for the Houston Rockets because, “We’ll let you play. He’s a hell of a player being benched by asinine Democratic theater.”

Meanwhile, about 1,400 NYC municipal workers were fired last month because of the vaccine mandates. Their unions — including the NYPD’s and the teacher’s — noted the hypocrisy after the athlete exemption.

The vaccine, which was proven safe and effective by the CDC, was mandated after thousands of New Yorkers died of COVID-19. Irving hasn’t explained why he refused the vaccine, but felt strong enough to forfeit millions of dollars in salary because he couldn’t play home games.

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