Kyrie Irving’s decision to remain unvaccinated entering the NBA season gained another prominent backer when boxer Floyd Mayweather released a video on Tuesday that commended Irving for being a “great person, great father, great athlete.”
“America is the land of the free. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion and, supposedly, freedom to choose,” Mayweather said. “I respect you for having some integrity and being your own man. A free mind makes his own choices. An enslaved mind follows the crowd. Stand for something, or fall for anything.
“One man can lead a revolution to stand up and fight for what’s right. One choice, one word, one action can change the world. It’s crazy how people hate you for being a leader. I hope your actions encourage many others to stand up and say enough is enough.”
Mayweather recalled he and Irving hanging out in 2016 as Irving participated in the Rio Olympics, and said he planned to post a message on one of his social media platforms but instead wanted to do it the “old-fashioned way” — reading it aloud.
The Brooklyn Nets announced on Oct. 12 that Irving can’t join in practices or play in games until he’s be eligible to participate fully as a player, which would mean he’s vaccinated.
Irving’s absence, and decision made by the Nets, led to hundreds gathering outside the Barclays Center on Sunday to protest and support Irving, chanting “no vaccine mandate” among other phrases before Brooklyn’s game against the Charlotte Hornets.
Previously, Irving wouldn’t have been able to play games in San Francisco and New York, which have COVID-19 vaccination mandates, and wasn’t able to practice with the team until its HSS Training Center was deemed a private office building.
Irving has also received praise for his stance from entertainer Chris Brown and Texas senator Ted Cruz.
“THE REAL HERO!!! I stand with my brother,” Brown wrote over a picture of Irving in an Instagram Story. “WHOEVER DONT LIKE IT… Go live your damn life.. ITS HIS CHOICE AND A DAMN GOOD ONE. ALWAYS IN MY BROTHERS CORNER.”
Brooklyn split its opening four games to the 2021-22 season, which has included two double-digit losses, and hosts the Miami Heat in their next game on Wednesday night.