ESPN broadcaster Stephen A. Smith criticizes Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving for refusing to comply with NBA vaccine requirements.
Kyrie Irving has been refusing the COVID-19 vaccine due to unfounded concerns about its safety, and the Nets are no longer tolerating it.
Neither is Stephen A. Smith.
On Oct. 12, the team released a statement that Irving will not practice or participate with the Brooklyn team until he is “eligible.” In order to be eligible, Irving would have to comply with their COVID policy, which means getting a vaccine.
Irving is still refusing to take the vaccine, but his reason for doing so is more grandiose than just skepticism. Irving claims that he is not anti-vaccine — he is just protesting the New York City mandate that prevents unvaccinated public school teachers, public healthcare workers and public servants in the court system from attending work. Irving even went so far as to call himself “a voice for the voiceless” in this regard.
Irving’s comments were dissected on the morning show circuit, especially by First Take host Stephen A. Smith.
Here’s some of what Smith had to say on Irving’s stance, which Smith called “some of the stupidest nonsense I’ve ever seen.”
“Kyrie Irving, I happen to believe, is an intelligent brother whose heart is in the right place. But now, you’ve regressed to an alarming level of self-righteousness, it not only makes you look hypocritical and untrustworthy, it makes you look what I know you are not, which is flat-out stupid.”
First Take host Stephen A. Smith calls out Kyrie Irving for “flat-out stupid” vaccine stance.
During the same broadcast, Smith continued to criticize Irving’s perspective, especially when ESPN NBA broadcaster and former Chicago Bull Jay Williams explained that it was a “personal decision” that he believed Irving had the right to make.
“We’re talking about a basketball player who signed on to play for the Brooklyn Nets who left his team hanging,” Smith said to Williams.
Perhaps Irving’s “voice for the voiceless” comment is meant in regards to communities of color in the United States, including Black, Latinx and Native American communities, whose hesitancy to receive a COVID-19 vaccine is engendered in centuries of mistrust and manipulation of these communities by the U.S. government.
However, there are health care workers, researchers and doctors who are speaking with their communities and encouraging them to get the vaccine. All Irving’s stance does is further complicate the matter and validate the unproven idea that the COVID-19 vaccine is dangerous.