Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai recently indicated that winning is behind the decision to allow the team’s unvaccinated star Kyrie Irving to return on a part-time basis.
Tsai spoke with the New York Post about the controversial move regarding Irving, who has yet to take the court this season.
“We’re trying to be practical,” Tsai said. “And I’ve always said I don’t want to make this a political issue. My only religion is to win games and win the championship. That’s where we are.”
Due to a vaccine mandate in New York City, Irving currently isn’t allowed to play home games at Barclays Center or road games at Madison Square Garden.
Prior to the change of heart, the Nets had declined to allow Irving to play or practice with the team until he was able to be a full participant.
The 29-year-old Irving signed with the Nets in 2019 and was one of the team’s key contributors during the league’s two previous seasons. Last season, the veteran guard averaged 26.9 points, 6.0 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game.
Despite Irving’s absence this season, the Nets have been thriving, compiling a record of 21-8. The team is first in the Eastern Conference and currently on a four-game win streak.
However, Brooklyn is presently shorthanded as seven of the team’s players are currently in the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
With Irving back in the lineup, the Nets’ chances of winning a championship this season will no doubt improve, though whether they can make a deep playoff run remains a question mark.