NBA franchise the Brooklyn Nets have announced that Kyrie Irving will not play or practise with the team until he is able to fully participate as questions linger about his vaccination status.
Under New York City rules, professional athletes playing or practising in public arenas must be vaccinated or face being unable to play, which could leave basketball players unable to play home games.
While Irving has not confirmed his vaccination status, having asked for privacy, the Nets' general manager Sean Marks confirmed that the star point guard has made a choice that will limit his availability and will thus play no part in the team's activities.
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“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,” Marks said in a statement.
The Nets had been regarded as one of the favourites for the NBA title behind a fearsome triumvirate of stars.
Seven-time NBA all-star Irving is joined by two former league Most Valuable Players in James Harden and Kevin Durant on the Brooklyn-based franchise's roster.
Irving tweeted this week: "I am protected by God and so are my people. We stand together."
NBA players are not required to be vaccinated but those yet to receive both jabs are subject to more stringent testing and restrictions, and the league has said it will not pay players who miss games concerning their ineligibility due to vaccination status.
Irving had been due to earn more than $33 million (£24.25 million) had he played every game in the 2021-22 season.
“It is imperative that we continue to build chemistry as a team and remain true to our long-established values of togetherness and sacrifice,” Marks said.
“Our championship goals for the season have not changed, and to achieve these goals each member of our organisation must pull in the same direction.
“We are excited for the start of the season and look forward to a successful campaign that will make the borough of Brooklyn proud.”
The Nets were knocked out at the conference semi-final stage of last season's NBA play-offs by eventual champions the Milwaukee Bucks.
The 2021-22 regular season will begin on October 19, with Brooklyn opening with an encounter with the Bucks in Wisconsin one day later.
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