““I stand with Kyrie Irving.””
That was Texas Sen. Ted Cruz applauding Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving for challenging the NBA on COVID-19 vaccinations.
The NBA preseason is underway and the league has rolled out several new health and safety protocols surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Among those are strict testing and travel rules for unvaccinated players — 90% of NBA players are vaccinated, according to the league’s player union.
While this rate is higher than 77.1% of U.S. adults who have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, many high-profile players have not received the vaccine, putting into question their availability for the 2021-’22 NBA season.
Among those high-profile players who have either reportedly — or admittedly — not received the COVID vaccine are Irving, Bradley Beal, Andrew Wiggins, and Jonathan Isaac.
Cruz ended his tweet using the phrase “#YourBodyYourChoice,” which is typically used when referencing women’s health choices surrounding abortion. Like the rest of the U.S. Senate, Cruz has been vaccinated.
Cruz has been a vocal about his opposition to NBA players making public statements about politics or voting in the past, even calling NBA games a “left-wing political lecture.”
Irving, who is vice president of the league’s players union, will not be allowed to play home games this season due to New York City’s indoor vaccine mandate. He would forfeit $8.9 million dollars if he does not get vaccinated, according to ESPN.
At media day for their respective team’s this week, Irving, Beal, Wiggins and Issac had a chance to publicly comment on their vaccination status.
“We’re not talking about something political, or racism or police brutality,” the usually outspoken Lakers star LeBron James said about vaccines this week. “We’re talking about people’s bodies and well-being. I don’t think I personally should get involved in what other people should do for their bodies and livelihoods.”
A Kaiser Family Foundation poll this week showed a majority of unvaccinated American adults said they will “definitely not” get vaccinated or get it “only if required” to do so.