BROOKLYN, NY—NBA player, Kyrie Irving who plays for the New York Nets is standing his ground in his decision to remain unvaccinated despite the city’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement for professional athletes of the league. All players must adhere to the mandate to play at games in the state of New York.

The Nets general manager has not let Irving participate in practice or games because of his “my body, my choice” mentality. Many of the players in the NBA have been vaccinated due to the evolving rules and mandates issued since March 2020, Irving decided the vaccine was not a substance he wanted to inject into his body.

The athlete is aware that people are frustrated with his decision, but none the less is not letting the peer pressure get to him. On October 13, Irving came out with a statement on his Instagram Live stating, “I am always going to stay true to me. This is my life. I get to do whatever I want. This is one body that I get here and you’re telling me what to do with my body. This has nothing to do with the Nets or my teammates. This has to do with what’s going on in our world. I am being grouped into something that is bigger than just the game of basketball.”

“I am staying grounded in what I believe in. It’s not about being anti-vax or being on one side or the other. It’s about being true to what feels good for me. I am still uncertain about a lot of things and that’s okay. If I am going to be demonized for having more questions and taking more time to make a decision with my life, then that’s just what it is.”

Historically sports media has backed players when they take a stand on something political. In 2016, NFL player, Colin Kaepernick started the trend of kneeling during the National Anthem which became a popular act to show a lack of respect to the American flag and ever since, some athletes have joined Kaepernick while getting positive media attention.

Popular sports commentator, Stephen A. Smith said the NY Nets, “need to get rid of Irving” because he is “just a problem.”

“If I’m a member of a team and we’ve aligned and we’re mission minded, I am not going to be the one to jump off the train to compromise the mission. I’m going to be the one that stands pact and is like ‘yo this is what we doing, this what we gotta do,'” said Smith. He believes that Irving has come up with some type of “conspiracy theory” and wished him luck with that theory.

He supported the “my body, my choice” mentality stating, “People out there who don’t want to take the vaccine, that is your personal choice. I get where you coming from with that” and then followed up with, “but you definitely aren’t part of a team.”

According to ESPN, Irving could potentially lose $17 million that he would have been paid for playing in the state of New York including his home court. He is refusing to give up his human liberties and he is being stripped of his career and income until he does comply.

The NBA season is set to start Tuesday, October 19.