After Kevin Durant spoke in support of his unvaccinated teammate Kyrie Irving Sunday afternoon, ESPN’s Michael Wilbon boldly responded by absolutely torching the basketball superstars on NBA Countdown .

Barred from Brooklyn Nets home games this season for refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19, Irving was able to attend Sunday’s game at the Barclays Center as a fan, despite being prohibited from playing in the contest. Although New York City recently dropped its indoor vaccine rule, the private sector mandate still subjects workers to being vaccinated.

During his postgame presser, Durant sounded off on the protocols that are preventing Irving from playing, blaming New York City mayor Eric Adams.

“I don’t get it,” Durant said. “It just feels like, at this point now, somebody’s trying to make a statement or point to flex their authority. But you know, everybody out here is looking for attention and that’s what I feel like the mayor wants right now. Some attention.”

But Wilbon wasn’t going to allow Durant to deflect the blame away from Irving, who could swiftly fix his forced benching in home games by getting vaccinated, like 98% of the league did before the season started.

“Kevin Durant is too aware and too plugged-in to say something that impertinent,” Wilbon ranted. “What’s the point of that? Wants some attention? You wanna call out somebody, call out your teammate. Tell him to get a shot! He’s got plenty of them cause he couldn’t have gone to grade school in metropolitan New York without vaccines!”

“The vaccine is not about attention, people died, hundreds of thousands of them from this virus. And you think the Mayor of New York needs to attend to a basketball team’s needs, your needs, before he needs to attend to the needs of a metropolitan area, the biggest in America?” Wilbon continued. “Everybody wants to tell you how woke they are, and then I have to hear something like that? That’s offensive, stop.”

We’re used to hearing Stephen A. Smith go off during NBA Countdown, but Wilbon proved he’s still elite when it comes to delivering a righteously angry sports rant.

It’s okay to be a strong supporter of COVID vaccines and still recognize the hypocrisy in allowing Irving to walk around the Barclays Center without a mask, vaccine or negative test while prohibiting him from being on the court. But there’s no guarantee the private sector mandate will be lifted before the playoffs, meaning Irving might continue to be a part-time player through the most crucial portion of the Nets season.

But Irving outlasted the Nets, and he outlasted New York City’s indoor vaccine mandate. Why would we assume he’s going to renege on his stance against the jab now?


About Brandon Contes

Brandon Contes is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously helped carve the sports vertical for Mediaite and spent more than three years with Barrett Sports Media. Send tips/comments/complaints to