Charles Barkley rips Nets, Kyrie Irving over part-time status

From Kyrie Irving’s refusal to be vaccinated to the Nets relenting and allowing their point guard to return on a part-time basis, Charles Barkley has all sorts of problems with Brooklyn. 

After Irving’s season debut in the Nets’ win in Indiana on Wednesday, the TNT analyst ripped both the star and team on Thursday for enabling this unconventional marriage. 

“I have an issue with the entire thing,” Barkley said on “Inside the NBA.” “Kyrie is a heck of a player. But to only play in road games, I don’t think it is fair to the game, No. 1. But I think more importantly, I don’t think it is fair to the team.” 

The Nets agreed through October, November and halfway through December, until the COVID-19 cases started spiking and more than half the team was in the health and safety protocols. They announced the unvaccinated Irving, who is not allowed to play in New York because of local vaccine mandates, could rejoin the squad so they could add an additional road player. 

Of course, by the time he debuted, Brooklyn was whole again (with the exception of Joe Harris). 

Charles Barkley has a big problem with Kyrie Irving’s part-time status.
Getty Images, USA Today Sports

“I’m not even sure what [the Nets] realized,” Barkley said of their decision to cave to Irving. “They’re like, ‘We’re going to let you play in half the games.’ And I just have a problem with that personally.” 

Barkley has personal issues with Irving’s choice not to be vaccinated — “which is silly and stupid” — and his unwillingness to do so for the good of the team. 

“When you’re on a team, you have to make sacrifices for the team to win,” Barkley said. 

The Nets won their first game with Irving back then lost at home to the Bucks on Friday without him. 

Barkley’s stance was not unanimous. Kenny Smith pointed out that Irving is not choosing to play only road games, but it is New York City’s mandate that is keeping him away. 

“Vaccination is more than a political stance at times, too,” Smith said. “It’s a personal choice.”

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