Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving misses team media day due to NYC's COVID-19 proof-of-vaccine requirement

BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving did not attend the team's media day at Barclays Center on Monday because of New York City's COVID-19 protocols, and he declined to discuss his vaccination status or his intentions in dealing with the matter.

Last month, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio issued an executive order that required New York-resident pro athletes that practice or play indoors to show proof of at least one vaccine shot.

Speaking over Zoom, Irving repeatedly requested privacy when asked about the situation and indicated he planned to release more information at a later time.

"I know that I'll be there every day no matter what and just be present for my teammates as one of the leaders on the team and be there for my growing tribe off the court," Irving said.

"I know the focus has to be at an all-time high, no distractions. This is the last thing I wanted to create, was more distractions and more hoopla and more drama around this. I'm doing my best to maintain this with good intentions and a good heart."

Irving is expected to travel with the team to San Diego later Monday and participate in the team's training camp this week, sources told ESPN.

An NBA spokesman said the league didn't plan to comment on whether any players had requested an exemption from the law. Last week, the NBA announced it declined an exemption request from Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins regarding a similar law in San Francisco. Each city would also have to issue an exemption for a player to play without vaccination.

"That's on Kyrie and that's his personal decision. What he does is not on us to speculate what may happen," Nets star Kevin Durant said. "We trust in Kyrie, and I expect us to have our whole team at some point."

"Obviously Ky is a huge part of what we're trying to do," teammate James Harden said.

Other Nets players at media day indicated Irving had played in recent pickup games with teammates. The new ordinance went into effect two weeks ago.

Last week, Nets general manager Sean Marks said there were a "couple of people" still not compliant with the new law but that the expectation was everyone would be ready by the start of camp. Monday, all Nets players were present except for Irving.

"We feel confident in the several days before camp everybody will be allowed to participate fully," Marks said then.

The Nets' first preseason game in Brooklyn is Oct. 8. They open their preseason schedule on the road Sunday at the Los Angeles Lakers.

Also Monday, Harden and Irving addressed their contract statuses. Both are eligible to sign extensions now -- Irving could add four years and up to $182 million and Harden could add three years and up to $161 million. Both players said they are still in discussions with the team but still weighing options and not in a rush to make a decision.

Durant signed a four-year, $198 million extension in August. If neither Irving or Harden extend, they could become free agents in 2022.

"It's not about the money for me," Harden said. "I've been on enough teams where we fell short. So my mindset and my goal is to make sure we're able to build and continue to build this team to be able to compete as a team for multiple, multiple years at the highest level. Win a championship in New York, the money will come."