A group of protesters gathered in Brooklyn to protest the Brooklyn Nets’s decision to sideline a player over his vaccination hesitancy.
The protesters assembled Sunday outside Barclays Center in Brooklyn before the Nets played their home opener against the Charlotte Hornets. The group, which ESPN estimates to be around 100 or so, was there to support Nets point guard Kyrie Irving’s decision not to comply with New York City’s vaccine mandate.
“No vaccine mandate, stand with Kyrie,” the protesters chanted from outside. Other protesters chanted, “My body, my choice,” while holding signs that read, “Stand with Kyrie.”
At one point, a few of the protesters attempted to get into the front entrance of Barclays before being pushed back by security and police forces.
“Barclays Center briefly closed its doors yesterday in order to clear protesters from the main doors on the plaza and ensure guests could safely enter the arena,” a spokesperson from the Brooklyn Nets told the Washington Examiner. “Only ticketed guests were able to enter the building, and the game proceeded according to schedule.”
Irving was sidelined by the Nets in October after declining to get the vaccine. While the player expressed hesitancy over the Nets’s vaccine mandate, he says he is not anti-vaccine.
“I chose to be unvaccinated,” Irving said during an Instagram Live stream. “That was my choice. And I would ask y’all just to respect that choice. I’m going to 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, you know? This is not a political thing here.”
“Kyrie has made a personal choice, and we respect his individual right to choose,” said Nets General Manager Sean Marks in a prewritten statement. “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.”