Stephen A. Smith, Jay Williams Get Into Heated Debate Over Kyrie Irving and COVID Vaccine

The First Take Crew
The First Take Crew /

The Kyrie Irving situation took another turn last night as the enigmatic superstar went on Instagram Live to explain why he hadn't been vaccinated, a decision that will prevent him from suiting up for the Brooklyn Nets. It sparked yet another day of Irving debate on First Take, leading to a heated discussion between Stephen A. Smith and Jay Williams.

Williams spent a large part of yesterday defending Irving's right to choose, pushing back against Smith's declaration that the whole thing was some of the "stupidest nonsense" the analyst has ever seen in 25 years covering basketball. Williams seemed to take offense at the idea that Irving's choice should be decried and repeatedly stated the vaccine decision is one that can only be made with each individual's best choice in mind. Williams said he is vaccinated because that's the best choice for him, and Irving not getting vaccinated is apparently the best choice for the player, so we should respect that.

Smith did not necessarily agree with that idea and it carried over to today. Both sides seemed to get legitimately frustrated. Kendrick Perkins also chimed in.

While some of Williams' points hold water, it is hard to believe he went the "well, actually" route when Smith rhetorically asked if the vaccine had killed anybody (which it has not). Molly Querim Rose quickly nipped that tangent in the bud before it got started, which is why she is paid the big bucks to moderate this show. We can talk in circles for days about how "personal" of a decision getting vaccinated really is when it affects the people around us, but vaccines do not cause death and it is exceptionally dangerous to even imply otherwise on the platform that Williams has.

Perkins was the voice of reason here. Irving can talk all he wants about being a voice for the voiceless or whatever, but he isn't actually saying anything. He vaguely alluded to people losing their jobs due to vaccine mandates during that Instagram Live monologue but didn't have any thoughts beyond "it's crazy." If he doesn't want to get vaccinated, that is entirely his prerogative. That doesn't mean he is exempt from criticism, especially if he's claiming it's about a larger movement without backing that up.