Tsai told ESPN he wasn't sure if Irving would ever play again and maintained that his star point guard had to be vaccinated to play for the Nets again. New York has a strict vaccine mandate that prevents Irving from playing while unvaccinated. Tsai added he hadn't spoken to Irving since the Nets made the decision on October 12 not to have him with the team until he can comply with New York's COVID-19 mandate.
The 57-year-old owner continued:
"Obviously Kyrie has his own belief so I respect that. But we have to make a team decision. This is not a decision about him. This is a decision about where we go as a team. And it is just not tenable for us to have a team with a player that comes in and out, no home games, only away games. What do you do in practice then?
"This week we have a whole stretch of six home games, so we won't have Kyrie. So it became pretty clear to us. We are very much aligned among myself, [GM] Sean [Marks], coaching staff that this has to be [the decision], especially since we're a team with pretty lofty aspirations. We don't see any other way of running this team."
It's looking increasingly like Irving may never play for the Nets again. He's steadfast in his refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine and the team's owner has now gone public hoping he changes his mind.
Irving is eligible to sign a four-year, $187 million extension with Brooklyn but that's not going to happen unless he gets vaccinated. He's currently under contract through the 2022-23 season.