Boxing legend Floyd Mayweather took to social media Monday to defend Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving’s decision to remain unvaccinated despite the team’s vaccine mandate.
“America is the land of the free: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and supposedly freedom to choose,” Mayweather said in a video posted on social media. “Never be controlled by money.”
“I respect you for having some integrity and being your own man. A free mind makes his own choices and a slave mind follows the crowd,” Mayweather continued. “Stand for something or fall for anything. One man can lead a revolution to stand up and fight for what’s right. One choice, one word, one action, can change the world. It’s crazy how people hate you for being a leader. I hope your actions encourage many others to stand up and say ‘enough is enough.'”
Mayweather’s support for Irving’s controversial decision comes amid increasing protests against the NBA team’s vaccine mandate causing black players to be benched.
Crowds of protestors gathered outside Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Sunday before the Nets game against the Charlotte Hornets in support of medical freedom, chanting “No vaccine mandate, stand with Kyrie.” Others heard chanting “My body, my choice” and holding “Stand with Kyrie” signs, according to the Washington Examiner.
Crowds gathered to protest after the Nets informed Irving that he would be unable to play or practice until he meets New York City’s vaccine mandate. Irving has been ineligible to play in the Nets’ three games so far, according to ESPN.
Days after General Manager Sean Marks announced the Nets’ point guard would be dismissed from future games until he was fully vaccinated, Irving wrote on social media, “I am doing what’s best for me,” Fox News reported.
“I know the consequences here, and if it means that I’m judged and demonized for that, that’s just what it is,” Irving said on Instagram Live. “That’s the role I play, but I never wanted to give up my passion, my love, my dream just over this mandate.”