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Nets owner Joe Tsai talks Kyrie Irving decision, says he never wanted to make it a ‘political issue’

The Brooklyn Nets announced the return of Kyrie Irving on Friday after keeping him off the court due to his COVID-19 vaccination status.

Irving, because he’s presumably unvaccinated against the coronavirus, will not be allowed to play in Brooklyn because of New York City’s vaccination mandate.

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Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets looks on during a game against the Boston Celtics during Round 1, Game 5 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs June 1, 2021, at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. 
(Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Brooklyn team owner Joe Tsai told the New York Post the organization made the decision to activate Irving given the team’s injury and COVID-19 woes.

“We’re trying to be practical. And I’ve always said I don’t want to make this a political issue,” Tsai told the newspaper. “My only religion is to win games and win the championship. That’s where we are.”

Nets general manager Sean Marks released a statement on Irving’s status.

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Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving has been criticized for taking a stand against coronavirus vaccine mandates. 

Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving has been criticized for taking a stand against coronavirus vaccine mandates. 
(Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

“After discussions with our coaches, players and staff, the organization has decided to have Kyrie Irving rejoin the team for games and practices in which he is eligible to participate,” Marks said. “We arrived at this decision with the full support of our players and after careful consideration of our current circumstances, including players missing games due to injuries and health and safety protocols.

“We believe that the addition of Kyrie will not only make us a better team but allow us to more optimally balance the physical demand on the entire roster. We look forward to Kyrie’s return to the lineup, as well as getting our entire roster back together on the court.”

Brooklyn Nets and New York Liberty owner Joe Tsai attends a game between the New York Liberty and the Phoenix Mercury Aug. 25, 2021, at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Nets and New York Liberty owner Joe Tsai attends a game between the New York Liberty and the Phoenix Mercury Aug. 25, 2021, at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
(Steven Freeman/NBAE via Getty Images)

Irving’s return comes at an important time.

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James Harden entered the league’s COVID health and safety protocols earlier this week. On Saturday, the team announced Kevin Durant had entered health and safety protocols.

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