Kyrie Irving’s Power Move Against the Vaccine Mandate

13 Oct 2021

CLAY: There’s an interesting story going on right now in the NBA with a player named Kyrie Irving. Now, we talked before about how NBA players have been very questioning in many ways of the efficacy and necessity of covid vaccines, but essentially because of city mandates in New York City, in L.A., and in San Francisco, by and large, if you are an athlete in those locations, playing indoors, and you are refusing to be vaccinated, you are not able to do your job. So Kyrie Irving right now, at least foment, is sticking to his guns and refusing to be a part of the covid vaccine mandate, and he, therefore, is not going to be able to play in your hometown of New York City for the Brooklyn Nets. He’s one of the best players in the NBA, one of the highest paid.

What’s interesting to me is not only Kyrie Irving having the resources to fight against the covid vaccine mandate and also to put a different spin on who is refusing the covid vaccine — right, we’re not talking about Southwest Airline pilots, we’re not talking about Trump-supporting red state voters. What’s interesting here, Buck, is not only Kyrie Irving so far saying “no” to the covid vaccine, it’s what this says about larger society’s ability to understand and acquiesce to risk. And I want to see if you buy into this analogy here.

In the 1990s, Magic Johnson tested positive for HIV. At that point in time HIV was a death sentence. The idea was if you got it you were going to die and he announced that he was no longer going to be able to play. After getting treatment, the NBA permitted Magic Johnson to come back and play. They changed protocols to say if you had a cut you had to come off the court. There were players that were the apprehensive and nervous about the idea, obviously with bodies banging into each other. The idea of potentially blood transmission, leading to an HIV infection. But Magic Johnson was allowed to play.

I want to contrast that — and, by the way, that’s the right decision, I think, based on the data and the science. But the risk of an HIV infection occurring, however remote and limited it might have been during the course of competition, was at that point in time considered to be a death sentence. In other words, unlike covid, which spreads, and if you get it, you’re sick, if you’re a young, healthy athlete, you might not even know you had it. We haven’t had any athletes who are in competition that we know of at the professional level where covid is even spread from one team to another or one player to another, even in something like football where you’re tackling, certainly in basketball it hasn’t happened.

And obviously Michael Jordan is one of the most famous athletes of all time, partly because he played basketball with the flus, refused to allow the flu, at least according to historical records to keep him from having an incredible game. Obviously, the flu is very communicable during the course of a game as well. That made him a legend. Do you find it interesting in the space of, whatever it is, 25 years, roughly, Buck, we have gone from “let’s find a way to allow Magic Johnson to play with HIV,” which at that time was effectively a death sentence, to now we can’t even allow Kyrie Irving in New York City or L.A. or San Francisco to play if he’s unvaccinated? Even though, Buck, they can test him and confirm that he isn’t covid positive and that anybody out there who is nervous about this could go get their own covid vaccine and theoretically have even more protection. What does that tell us about risk analysis and risk factors? Do you find this as intriguing as I do in a larger societal picture?

BUCK: Yes, because the people who are pushing for the mandates won’t really say this out loud, but they need, in their own minds, for the mandates to be universal and without exception, right? So they need it to apply to everybody, they need there to be almost no opt-outs or loopholes whatsoever because in their mind they’re going to turn covid — and this, I think, where the epidemiology, not that I’m a doctor or playing one on radio dish but this is where the epidemiology becomes a problem for them — they think that this is going to be like measles. They think that this is going to be like malaria, a disease that we have effectively eradicated in the United States. They don’t seem to understand that this going to be much more like either the common cold or the flu in terms of the various iterations=.-

CLAY: It’s never going away.

BUCK: It will never be gone entirely. The same way that as much as it would save a lot of lives and billions of dollars of lost productivity and working hard every year to get rid of the common cold, to get rid of the flu, we don’t yet have the scientific basis to do that, we don’t yet have the knowledge to do that. And we are seeing, I think, that people believe that this is going to be — ’cause this is what they’re saying also about the vaccine mandates, “Oh, it’s just like what about measles, mumps, rubella?” Those are different diseases that have different speeds of mutation. And also are much more dangerous to change if they get them. So they’re comparing things that aren’t really that much alike, and they’re negating things that actually do have a lot of similarities with this. And because of the one-size-fits-all policy is the only policy that will allow them to feel safely and warm at night when they go to sleep, the Fauciites want this to be a “everyone has to bend the knee” scenario.

And with Kyrie Irving, I mean, of course, what are we really even talking about here, right, when you discuss the application of this policy? He might get covid and therefore he might expose some of his teammates, he might get covid and supposed to people in any number of ways that aren’t his teammates. This is the world we live in. Why not at least make it a “he’s gotta get tested” regimen, which the Biden administration in their OSHA rule says is an opt-out for vaccination for employers more than a hundred. So why go to this extreme? The chance of Kyrie Irving getting covid and dying from it is effectively zero. It’s statistically zero. And yet they’re gonna force him to get this shot. You sit here and say, if they can do this to you based on the risk parameters that dear dealing with, what can the government not do to you in the name of health? This is what I think the conversation people need to have and start to think about.

CLAY: And I think what has to happen is people are the resources can fight this. I think what Kyrie Irving, whether you agree or disagree with him on a variety of different subjects, he has the financial resources to be able to survive and tear his family without making the money right now and so there are a lot of people out there with the same financial resources. These are the people that need to be fighting the battle because it’s unfortunate but there’s a lot of people out there who are facing covid vaccine mandates. We know ’cause we’ve taken their calls, Buck, who, hey, if they don’t get the shot, then they aren’t able to pay their mortgage, they aren’t able to take care and go get food for their families and so as a result a lot of people have to comply even though they fundamentally reject the very precept of requiring, mandating these vaccines. So it changes the storyline of who exactly is fighting this battle. And I think it’s an incredibly powerful move by Kyrie Irving in many respects.

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