Call him Kyrie Herbing.
It is possible, according to a report Monday that sourced “people close to” him, that Kyrie Irving could be swayed into getting vaccinated when a plant-based COVID-19 vaccine has been approved.
Irving, who is vegan, is unvaccinated and has said that his decision has been “what’s best for me.” His choosing not to be jabbed has taken him away from the Nets, who under a New York City mandate cannot allow him to play home games at Barclays Center and have not allowed the star point guard to only play in road games.
Irving has not disclosed a specific reason concerning his hesitancy about the vaccine, saying in October that it “is not about being anti-vax or about being on one side or the other. It is just really about being true to what feels good for me.”
Perhaps a plant-based dosage, about which the Bally Sports report speculated, feels best for him. The current vaccines were tested on animals, with which some animal rights groups take issue.
There are plant-based vaccines in the works, including one from a Canadian biotech company that is going through clinical trials. According to the company, the study, which is being conducted in Japan, is aiming to gain approval in Japan by March 2022. It is unclear when the United States would approve — or even if Irving would be onboard.
Steve Nash said he had not talked with Irving about a possible plant-based option.
“If we get the gift of his return, we’ll be ecstatic, but we can’t count on it,” the Nets coach said at practice on Monday. “We can’t wait for him. We have to get to work, and get better, and our group’s been awesome this year.”
Before NBA action had kicked off Monday, the Nets had the sixth-best defensive rating — 105.6 — in the league. Last year they were 22nd at 113.1.
The personnel has been tweaked, perhaps most importantly by DeAndre’ Bembry, who typically takes on the best opposing wing player and figures to draw the Luka Doncic assignment in Dallas on Tuesday, presuming the star plays.
“I remember coming in [before the season] and telling some of the guys like Nic [Claxton], Bruce [Brown], some of the more defensive guys. … I was just pushing them, telling them I was the best defensive player on the team,” Bembry said. “Just pushing them [and then] everybody in the locker room [started] arguing who was the best.
“That’s definitely one of the things I bring to the team for sure, a certain passion defensively.”
Doncic is listed as questionable and missed Saturday’s game with left ankle soreness.
“My job is just to make it difficult on him — make him miss a few shots to try to get in his head,” Bembry said. “Just little small things, tactics that I do against certain guys like this.”
James Johnson, who did not play Saturday because of left shoulder soreness, was not listed on the injury report, meaning he should be available.