Over the last few months, news on Kyrie Irving and his vaccination status have lit up the entire basketball world, as the NBA nears its October 19th tip-off. TV personalities such as Stephen A. Smith, along with former players like Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Oakley, and more, have been upfront with their criticisms on how Kyrie has handled the ongoing situation, as a member of the Brooklyn Nets.

Analysts like Stephen A. and others have often highlighted the potential repercussions of Irving’s decision to not get the COVID-19 vaccine, as the star guard is currently set to miss the entire upcoming season if he doesn’t comply with the NBA’s new vaccination mandates. 

However last night, as we reported, Irving responded to fans and the public at large, via Instagram Live, where he shared his perspective and detailed the unfair narratives he believes that critics and the media are saying about him, because of his decision. 

“To continue to play with my name. To continue to play with my image. To continue to paint me in a certain type of way, without me speaking? These dudes are puppets,” Irving said on social media. “Like you’re going on TV speaking out stuff that my family has to see…They’re calling me unintelligent. Calling me all these different types of names, and they will never say it to my face.”

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He continued, “I stand for so many things bigger than this game. And right now, it’s not just about the game of basketball its about helping your fellow human being understand that they have a choice. 

I’m thinking logically, I’m not thinking with emotions. I’m going to keep saying that because you gotta make these convictions yourself, like I gotta make these myself… It’s not always about the money, it’s about choosing what’s best for you.”

Irving finished saying, “I’m not going to be used as a person in this agenda. It should not be divided amongst all of us, it should just be understood and respected.”

This morning on ESPN’s First Take, Stephen A. Smith, one of Irving’s known critics, defended himself and made clear his stance on Kyrie. Explaining that vaccination statuses and specifics aside, this situation only further highlights a familiar pattern concerning an unreliable superstar. 

“The one consistent common denominator that is inescapable is A.) Kyrie Irving is a distraction. B.) It usually involves him missing time on the job, which he signed up to do. He encouraged other people to do. Which he’s getting $35 million a year to play. These are all the things that I’m pointing to.”

Which side do you agree with? Check out the entire responses from Stephen A. and Kyrie Irving, below. 

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