Kyrie Irving has officially rejoined the Brooklyn Nets after weeks of being benched for his anti-vaxx stance. On Wednesday (Dec. 29), the 29-year-old baller spoke to the media upon his return and addressed his thoughts on his initial ban from the team.
“I understood their decision and I respected it,” he said, per New York Post reporter Brian Lewis. “I really had to sit back and try not to become too emotionally attached to what they were deciding to do. I had to sit down and really evaluate things and see it from their perspective.”
For weeks, Irving was prohibited from playing games and working out with his team members. The order stemmed from his choice not to take the COVID-19 vaccine. Though he was adamant about his decision, he admitted that he “wasn’t prepared for” the consequences that would soon follow.
“Coming into the season, I had my thought process of being able to be a full-time teammate and just go out and have fun and provide a great brand of basketball out there,” he told reporters. “But unfortunately, it didn’t happen like that. Things happen for a reason.”
Irving made his return on Wednesday (Dec. 29), practicing with his teammates for the first time since October. He was recently tapped as a part-time player after injuries and COVID-19 cases resulted in fewer available players. Though New York’s vaccine mandate prevents him from playing in home games, he said that he is “grateful” for the opportunity to join the Nets again.
“Last night I could barely sleep,” Irving explained. “I’m like, man, I just don’t want to come out and not be who I know I am as a player. … [My] heart racing and just not being nervous and touching the basketball again, and just the rhythm of the game. I missed it.”