(NewsNation) — Kyrie Irving says he turned down a $100 million deal to stay unvaccinated against COVID-19.
Speaking during Brooklyn Nets media day on Monday, the star guard said he turned down a four-year extension before the 2021-22 season. This is reported by ESPN.
“I gave up four years, 100-something million, choosing not to vaccinate, and that was the decision,” Irving said. “[Get this] sign a contract, get vaccinated or not get vaccinated and there’s a level of uncertainty in your future whether you’re going to be in this league or whether you’re going to be on this team, so I had to face that circumstance in real life to lose my job for that decision “.
Irving was forced to miss home games due to New York’s vaccine requirements. He opted into the final year of his contract with the Nets before this season and is due to make $36.5 million this year.
Irving said his refusal to get vaccinated raised questions about his commitment to the game, which may have contributed to him still being in Brooklyn. Some teams may have been hesitant to make a case for the guard despite his talent because they weren’t sure how often they would see him.
“There were options,” Irving said, “but not a lot, I’ll tell you that, because, again, that stigma of whether I want to play or not, whether or not I’m going to be committed to a team that Sometimes I thought it was really not fair. But also, the timing was perfect to be able to put it on me because I was unavailable.”
Nets general manager Sean Marks told reporters that despite the breakdown in contract talks, he is confident Irving is committed to the team.
“At the end of the day, we’re happy to have Kyrie back here,” Marks said.
Irving said not getting a long-term contract was a “tough pill to swallow,” but he said he understands the Nets’ side. He will play alongside Kevin Durant, who requested a trade after the Nets lost to the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs.
The Nets have had discussions, but trading away an All-Star who is about to start a four-year extension and return comparable value has never been easy. The team ultimately rejected Durant’s request.
“I mean, I know I’m so good that you’re just not going to give me away,” Durant said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.