Is Kyrie Irving retiring from the NBA?

Joshua Rogers October 13, 2021
Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

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The point guard’s vaccination status is currently preventing him from participating in home games and practice sessions. If he is traded, or unable to play, could Kyrie Irving retire from the NBA?

Kyrie won’t play until he is eligible to become a ‘full participant

The Brooklyn Nets and their star point guard are still at odds and seemingly no closer to reconciling.

The vaccination status of Kyrie Irving is still undisclosed. However, it is widely believed he has yet to have his first dose of the covid-19 vaccine.

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This is seriously problematic for the Nets as New York City rules require proof of a covid-19 vaccine before anyone can enter indoor public spaces and venues.

This means Irving could miss all 41 home games at the Barclays Center this season, plus playoff games.

And now Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks has revealed Irving won’t play or practise for the team until he is eligible to become a “full participant” under New York City rules.

“We respect his individual right to choose,” Marks said.

“Currently the choice restricts his ability to be a full-time member of the team, and we will not permit any member of our team to participate with part-time availability.”

Marks added: “We have decided Kyrie Irving will not play or practise with the team until he is eligible to be a full participant.”

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Is Kyrie Irving retiring from the NBA?

There is a growing feeling among NBA circles that if Kyrie is prohibited from playing – or traded – he could consider retiring.

A trade is unlikely given other teams’ reluctance to be burdened with the inevitable Kyrie headache.

That could force Irving into retirement, an outcome predicted by several NBA analysts.

According to Marc Stein and agreed with by Fox Sports’ Nick Wright, there is also a “belief in some corners of the league that Irving would retire, or at least deeply ponder it, if Brooklyn suddenly traded him”.

Kendrick Perkins and Stephen A Smith weigh in on Kyrie retiring

ESPN First Take co-host Kendrick Perkins echoed Marc Stein’s sentiment on Tuesday’s (12 October) show, predicting Kyrie’s retirement.

Stephen A Smith backed up this theory.

He added: “It’s just like Kendrick Perkins said, ‘This brother when he said that he’d retire if he gets traded, we don’t know if he might… He ain’t playing now, he’s that kind of dude!’

“And so, as a result, you’ve got teams that don’t wanna trade for him – a) because he might retire or b) because he might be just as much trouble for them because his focus ain’t just on basketball.”

As The New York Post’s Brian Lewis says: “Trying to predict Irving is like trying to figure out which way the wind will be blowing a year from now.”

With that in mind, it certainly wouldn’t come as a shock if Kyrie Irving retired from the NBA.

Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

How much money does Kyrie stand to lose this season?

The Athletic recently reported Irving is not anti-vaccine but is upset people are losing their jobs because of vaccine mandates.

Either way, remaining unvaccinated has serious financial consequences for Kyrie.

ESPN’s Bobby Marks reports Irving would miss out on $381,181 for every game missed.

If he were to miss all 41 home games this season, plus $762,362 for missing the two home pre-season games and another $762,362 for missing two games at Madison Square Garden, he could lose $15.6 million of his 2021/22 salary.

A few years ago, a player like Kyrie Irving retiring in his prime would seem unthinkable.

Now, though, it appears to be a real possibility.

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Joshua is a senior sports writer with over four years' experience in online writing. He graduated with a BA in Ancient History from The University of Manchester before receiving an MA in Sports Journalism from The University of Central Lancashire. He became a trending writer for a leading social publisher and later spent time covering the 2018 World Cup for The Mirror Online. He then moved to a social marketing agency where he acted as website editor. His specialties on The Focus include F1, tennis, NBA, NFL and combat sports.