Video of Muhammad Ali promoting vaccines goes viral after Kyrie Irving compared to legend

The Brooklyn Nets guard was likened to the boxing legend for his defiance towards the franchise's Covid-19 vaccine mandate.


                            Video of Muhammad Ali promoting vaccines goes viral after Kyrie Irving compared to legend
Kyrie Irving (R) was likened to Muhammad Ali (L) for his defiance towards Covid-19 vaccine requirements (Hulton Archives, Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

An old video of Muhammad Ali promoting vaccines for "mumps, measles, and polio" went viral on Thursday, October 14, after NBA star Kyrie Irving was likened by many to the boxing legend for his defiance towards the franchise's Covid-19 vaccine mandate.

The Brooklyn Nets guard revealed Wednesday, October 13, that he was unvaccinated against Covid-19 a day after his team said he would not be allowed to play this season due to his status. Nets general manager Sean Marks said on Tuesday, October 12, that the seven-time All-Star wouldn't play or practice with the team until he met the vaccine requirements.

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"Kyrie has made a personal choice, and we respect his individual right to choose. Currently, the choice restricts his ability to be a full-time member of the team, and we will not permit any member of our team to participate with part-time availability," Marks said in a statement. 

Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets smiles following their 120-108 win over the Houston Rockets at Barclays Center on March 31, 2021, in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Taking to Instagram Live, Irving stressed that his decision was not politically motivated and that "nobody should be forced to do anything with their bodies." He explained, "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? This wasn't an issue before the season started. This wasn't something that I foresaw coming where I prepared for it and had a chance to strategize on what was going to be best for me and my family." The basketball star was lauded across social media for standing his ground, with many comparing him to the boxing great Ali, who was known for being an anti-establishment figure who was vocal against government overreach.

"Muhammad Ali risked his career for his beliefs. He was first vilified, then treated as a hero. Colin Kaepernick risked his career for HIS beliefs; the Left treats him as a hero Kyrie Irving risks HIS career for HIS beliefs, the Left depicts him as a 'Crazy Conspiracy Believer'," Pastor Darrell Scott tweeted.

Meanwhile, the NBA Central Twitter page shared a message by basketball coach Stephon Marbury, in which he said "Ali would be proud of you."  



 

But critics of Irving clapped back at the comparison, with one sharing an old video of the famed pugilist promoting vaccines for children against "mumps, measles, and polio" because "it's the law."



 

"The law says if your kids don't have the shots for dangerous diseases like mumps, measles, and polio, they aren't getting into school," Ali is heard saying in the public service announcement (PSA). "The law also says, they must go to school. So you have no choice - get your kids their shots. Call 349-2664 to get free shots now. Remember, 'No shots, No school', it's the law."

Many scoffed at those who likened Irving to Ali for the former's anti-vaccine stance. "Y’all got one more time to compare Kyrie Irving to Muhammad Ali before I punt this phone across the living room," one tweeted.

"Muhammad Ali fought his entire life for human rights and equality. Kyrie Irving refuses to do the very least as a human being to prevent the spread of a deadly virus," a comment read.

"Stop comparing Kyrie Irving to Muhammad Ali with all due respect," another added.



 

 



 

 



 

Despite the backlash, Irving has maintained that he does not intend to give up his job or retire. "You think I really want to give up my dream to go after a championship?" Irving said on Instagram Wednesday. "Do you think I really just want to give up my job? You think I really just want to sit at home and not go after the things with my teammates that I've been able to grow with, to learn with? Don't believe that I'm going to give up this game for a vaccine mandate or staying unvaccinated," he insisted.

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