Durant not upset with Kyrie: 'we are not going to change his mind'

Nathaniel S. Butler / National Basketball Association / Getty

Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant says there's no point getting upset about Kyrie Irving's absence from the team over his refusal to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

"I wish none of this stuff would happen, but this is the situation that we're in," Durant told reporters following Thursday's 107-101 preseason victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves, according to ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk.

Durant also admitted he hasn't spoken to his teammate since Tuesday following Nets general manager Sean Marks' announcement that Irving is not permitted to join the squad in any capacity. The restriction will last until he meets the vaccine requirement or local mandates are relaxed.

"What is being mad going to do?" Durant added. "You're not going to change his mind, you know what I'm saying? We'll let him figure out what he needs to do, and the team figure out what they need to do.

"And us as players, when we're in the locker room, we're on the floor, we're gonna work with each other. Life is amazing, so I can't be too mad at somebody making a decision for themselves."

A New York City mandate prohibits non-vaccinated individuals from partaking in a series of indoor activities, meaning Irving is currently not eligible to play in Brooklyn's home games. Marks took that limitation a step further on Tuesday, and the following day on Instagram, Irving reiterated his intent not to receive the vaccine as a stand of support for those who have lost their jobs over the issue.

"I can't be too mad at somebody making a decision for themselves," Durant admitted, adding that's he's optimistic that Irving will return to the team at some point during the season.

"Who am I to get upset at that?" Durant continued. "Just focus on what we got in this locker room. And when Ky's ready, I'm sure he'll talk to Joe (Tsai) and Sean (Marks), and they'll figure it out, and they'll tell us. So until then, we're going to keep grinding."

Durant and the Nets will get the 2021-22 campaign underway without Irving on Oct. 19 when they pay a visit to the defending NBA champs, the Milwaukee Bucks.

Brooklyn's Big Three of Durant, Irving, and James Harden appeared in just 13 regular-season outings together last campaign due to an assortment of injuries and other absences.

Durant not upset with Kyrie: 'we are not going to change his mind'
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