Protesters Besiege NYC’s Barclays Center Supporting Nets’ Kyrie Irving’s Stance Against Vaccine Mandates

By Victor Westerkamp | October 28, 2021
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Kyrie Irving- Brooklyn Nets-basketball-Boston Celtics-Barclays Center-Getty-Images-1321320545
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 01: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets during a 2021 NBA playoffs game on June 01, 2021. Irving is exempted from playing for his team since he refused to give in to the NYC-imposed vaccination mandate. (Image: Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

Protesters rallied at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Sunday, Oct. 24 at an NBA basketball event supporting star player Kyrie Irving’s refusal to be vaccinated.

Nearly a thousand sympathizers voiced their support shouting slogans like, “Stand with Kyrie,” “My Body, My Choice,” for the New York Nets player who is currently banned from playing for not taking the vaccine.

“You’re not a hero if you’ve got a multimillion-dollar deal from Nike,” NYC Council candidate Mark Szuszkiewicz told NTD reporter Brandon Fallon. “You’re a hero when you stand up against the majority for what’s right, and that’s exactly what Kyrie is doing,” he added.

A variety of people of different plumage—people wearing MAGA hats and BLM t-shirts side-by-side—had flocked together outside the arena, just moments before the tip-off between the New York Nets and the Charlotte Hornets. 

Several, probably unvaccinated protesters, engaged in a tussle with security guards and tried to force their way in, shouting, “Open the door!” and even managed to briefly thwart the entrance procedure of the ‘regular’ guests. Minutes later, however, the order was reinstalled.

“Barclays Center briefly closed its doors today in order to clear protestors from the main doors on the plaza and ensure guests could safely enter the arena,” a statement by the venue’s management to Fox News said. “Only ticketed guests were able to enter the building, and the game proceeded according to schedule.”

The controversy around the Nets’ guard and star player started earlier this month when Irving asserted that he did not want to comply with the vaccine mandate imposed by the city of New York.

“I chose to be unvaccinated, and that was my choice. And I would ask y’all just to respect that choice, and I am gonna just continue to stay in shape, be ready to play, be ready to rock out with my teammates, and just be part of this whole thing,” Irving said on Instagram, who also alluded to the fact that the team management had promised to grant him an exception.

You know, if you felt uncomfortable going into the season when you were promised that you would have exemptions or that you didn’t have to be forced to get the vaccine. You know, this wasn’t an issue before the season started. This wasn’t something that I foresaw coming in where I prepared for it, and I had a chance to strategize on what was going to be best for me and my family.”

However, the team’s general manager Sean Marks was adamant about their stance, asserting the wish to build chemistry and “remain true to our long-established values of togetherness and sacrifice,” he said in a statement. 

The note added that Irving “will not play or practice with the team until he is eligible to be a full participant,” thereby blocking the way for Irving to play away matches or participate in training at the facility unless he changes his mind and opts for inoculation.

But chances are very little Irving, who will miss out on a yearly income of $33 million for this season, will change his mind, as he is a man of principles. Earlier on, Irving had already caused some amazement by gifting away much of his wealth to charity goals.

“I came into the season thinking that I was just gonna be able to play ball, you know,” the star said on Instagram “be able to use my talent to continue to inspire, influence people in the right way.”