Charles Barkley 'proud' of way Nets have handled Kyrie Irving situation

Charles Barkley arrives at the NBA Awards at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif. (Richard Shotwell/AP)

Charles Barkley praised the Brooklyn Nets for not allowing star guard Kyrie Irving to play until he gets the COVID-19 vaccination.

"I really am proud of the Nets for putting their foot down," the TNT analyst and former NBA star said at halftime of Tuesday night's season opener between the Nets and Milwaukee Bucks.

"For saying no, we're not going to deal with this half on, half off (situation). The only thing that bugs me is he's still going to make $17 million sitting at home."

The Nets said earlier this month Irving would not play or practise with them until he could be a full participant, ending the idea that he would play in only road games.

A New York mandate requires professional athletes playing for a team in the city to have at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot to play or practice in public venues.

The 29-year-old Irving, who was slated to earn $34.9 million this season, will not be paid for any of the Nets' home games he misses because of the mandate which could cost him about 50 per cent of his salary.

In an Instagram Live session after the Nets' decision, Irving did not explicitly detail why getting the COVID-19 vaccine wasn't the best choice for him. Instead, he cited discomfort over his perception of how vaccination policies were being handled by the NBA and society at large.

Barkley has different thoughts.

"First of all, you don't get the vaccine for yourself, you get it for other people," he said. "I got vaccinated, I can't wait to get the booster... You get vaccinated for your family first, you get vaccinated for your teammates second. That's what bothers me about this whole thing."

Barkley also doesn't believe there should be any comparisons to Muhammed Ali, who refused to enter the U.S. military in the 1960s and was banned from boxing for several years.

"People are saying he's like Ali. First of all, don't ever compare anyone to Ali. Ali went three years without boxing when he was the highest-paid athlete in the world. This guy is going to make $17 million sitting at home."

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