WATCH: Stephen A. Smith and Jay Williams get into heated debate over Kyrie Irving

Joshua Rogers October 14, 2021
Photo by Mike Pont/Getty Images

On Thursday’s episode of ESPN’s First Take, Stephen A. Smith and Jay Williams got into a heated debate over Kyrie Irving and his vaccination status. Watch the segment here.

Kyrie speaks out on Instagram Live

The Kyrie Irving saga took an interesting turn again Wednesday night after the Nets star took to Instagram Live.

Irving has yet to be vaccinated against covid, meaning per New York City vaccine rules, he is ineligible to play in all of Brooklyn’s home games this season.

Addressing the situation last night, Kyrie said: “I chose to be unvaccinated, and that was my choice, and I would ask you all to just respect that choice,” he said.

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“You really think I want to lose money? You think I really want to give up on my dream to go after a championship? You think I really just want to give up my job?”

Addressing rumours he’d consider retiring should he remain ineligible to play, Kyrie said: “And no, I am not retiring. And no, I am not going and leaving this game like this.

“There is still so much more work to do.”

Stephen A. Smith and Jay Williams in heated debate over Kyrie’s status

Stephen A. Smith and Jay Williams appeared on ESPN’s First Take today to discuss the Irving situation.

Smith has been critical of Kyrie in recent days, saying, “I’ve been covering the NBA now for almost 25 years.

“I mean, this is some of the stupidest nonsense I’ve ever seen. Just flat-out stupid.

Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

However, Jay Williams has been more sympathetic towards Kyrie’s stance.

On First Take today the two got into it as Williams suggested Kyrie should be able to make the right choice for himself, and that it should be respected.

“I’m just telling you how it feels to some people, Stephen A. When you start calling people stupid, or you start … saying that they’re selfish and these things start going all over the internet, that creates a different narrative,” Williams argued.

“And people start fighting back against that narrative. … I’m just telling you how it is on the other side, Stephen A.”

“He’s choosing to do that for him. And when you go through an unprecedented time in the history of the country, you have your own individual right to make your own decision about what you want to do for you and your family. I just respect that right. I am not saying I agree with that right. I respect it.”

Stephen A responds

Stephen A responded: “That’s why I’m calling him selfish. Ain’t nobody questioning his right. He has the right to do it. He also has the right to go the hell away then. Retire. Retire, then.

“You left your teammates hanging. That’s my point.”

Kendrick Perkins also got involved in what was a rather entertaining segment.

Social media reacts to the exchange

The conversation took a decidedly uncomfortable turn when Williams questioned the efficacy of the vaccine, even implying it could be dangerous.

Molly Rose rightly called him out on it, but nevertheless the segment seemed to divide Twitter.

Some were in support of Williams while others defended Stephen A.

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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.