STEPHEN A. SMITH: This is some of the stupidest nonsense I’ve ever seen. Just flat-out stupid. So you don’t have a problem with taking the vaccine. Your position is that you’re gonna sit up there and compromise the championship aspirations of an organization you signed on to represent? You’re gonna compromise all of that because you want to give a voice to the voiceless. Really? And how is that going to work out for you, Kyrie Irvin? You’re going to disappear from the game of basketball. Who the hell is going to be interested in what you have to say when you have proven that you can’t even be trusted enough to do your damn job?
BUCK: Welcome back to the Clay Travis. And there you had Steven Smith talking about Kyrie Irvin. Kyrie Irvin, as I understand it, has made it clear: This is about freedom. It’s about individual choice for him. He’s not even saying (summarized), “I’m scared of what the vaccine will do to me” or “I have concerns about side effects.” He is saying, “This is a freedom of choice situation.” He is one of the biggest stars in the NBA. And he might lose, what is it, Clay, half of his $30 million or so salary because he’s gonna not be able play in home games?
CLAY: Yeah, he’s ineligible to play in Brooklyn because of New York City vaccine requirements. And, by the way, that’s Stephen A. Smith — who’s the highest paid employee at ESPN — basically telling Kyrie Irving to “shut up and dribble,” which I was told was super offensive whenever Laura Ingraham told someone that, or the “shut up and sing” from the Dixie Chicks and everything else.
But people were like, “Oh, my God! How dare you tell LeBron James to shut up and dribble?” when he was saying all sorts of stupid political opinions. But now Kyrie Irvin is basically saying, “Hey, I don’t want to put this vaccine into my body,” and we should talk about there’s an NBA player who was 100% healthy that says that he got…
I think we have audio we can play maybe in the next hour. He says he was forced to get covid vaccine and got blood clots and now is not able play this year. Now, I’m not… Again, we’re not doctors. I’m not saying there’s a direction causality there. He believes it is. We’ll play that audio for you. But for athletes out there whose bodies are the vehicle by which they are able to be highly compensated, it’s not crazy, Buck, for them to sit back and say, “I’m not sure I want to put something in my body that isn’t making me safer when I have zero risk — truly zero risk — from covid.”
BUCK: And Kyrie Irvin, since we’re talking about him, he spoke out about this on Instagram and made clear that he… Well, let’s hear what he had to say.
IRVIN: Pay attention to what’s going on out in the real world. You know, people are losing their jobs to these mandates. People are having to make choices with their own lives, which I respect, you know, and I don’t want to sit here and play on people’s emotions, either. Just use logic. You know, what would you do if you felt uncomfortable going into the season when you were promised that you have exemptions or that you didn’t have to be forced to get the vaccine? You know, this wasn’t an issue before the season started. This wasn’t something that I foresaw coming.
BUCK: This is important, too, because I think part of what is lost in the current debate over all the mandates, Clay, and the legal ramifications of, say, the state of Texas — God bless Texas — deciding that they’re going to ban all mandates, including private sector mandates for the vaccine —
BUCK: — employees and customers, doesn’t matter. You cannot mandate, by executive order now, in the state of Texas. There’s a governor who’s stepping up big time in defense of freedom, in my opinion. But, Clay, how much they have shifted shouldn’t be forgotten, either, that we are arguing with people over mandates who — when covid was in many ways more dangerous, when there was nobody vaccinated — we were initially having the debate last December.
Last January Democrats after Biden’s win, Democrats were all willing to say we agree mandates, mandates go too far, that’s bad. We’re gonna encourage people. Okay. What changed? What changed is they didn’t get their way. What changed is they renegotiated the deal with America so to speak, and Kyrie Irving is reminding everybody of that.
CLAY: Yeah, this is important too. Kyrie Irvin and the NBA players fought to ensure there was no vaccine mandate forced by the NBA, the players association is. Kyrie Irvin is not able to play because New York City’s vaccine rules. He plays in Brooklyn. Same thing is happening for players in L.A. and in San Francisco where the city’s vaccine mandates are impacting whether or not the players are eligible to be able to earn their living and play or not.
I give credit to Kyrie Irving hear for attacking, in his Instagram Live, mandates themselves. And it’s fascinating because all these people who claim they want athletes to use their platforms and speak out whatever they believe in sports media, are saying what Stephen A. Smith is saying now, which is, “Shut up and dribble!
“How dare you make a decision about whether or not to get the vaccine?” And I think it’s also important, Buck, because it goes against the prevailing CNN and MSNBC narrative that everybody who is questioning vaccine mandates is a stupid, redneck, Trump-supporting, pickup-driving conservative, right? Kyrie Irving’s not that, and there are a lot of people listening and having the same opinions that Kyrie does.
BUCK: Yes, I think some of the… Let’s just be real about this. Some of the most impactful and eloquent anti-mandate arguments in the last month or so have been made by a handful of NBA players, none of whom, at least that I know — I’m thinking of three in particular — were white.
BUCK: I doubt… I don’t know. I doubt they are Trump supporters by the numbers. And this causes a problem for the narrative — the same narrative, by the way, that as we’ve already established less CNN to lie about ivermectin as a primarily horse dewormer medication so they could mock Joe Rogan.