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With the Brooklyn Nets back on the road on Saturday night for a matchup with the Eastern Conference-leading Miami Heat, Kyrie Irving was eligible to play and finished with 29 points, five rebounds and five assists. But even that wasn't enough, as the Nets' comeback attempt fell short, 115-111. The loss was the 11th in a row for the Nets, who are now just 29-27 on the season, and clinging to the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. 

With Kevin Durant out until some time after the All-Star break with a knee injury, Ben Simmons out indefinitely as he ramps back up and Irving only eligible to play in one game (at Milwaukee) the rest of the month, the Nets are in serious trouble.

After the loss to the Heat, Irving spoke to reporters and talked at length about his situation. He has often reiterated that he has no plans to get vaccinated, and said on Saturday that he feels "no guilt" for his decision. 

"There's no guilt that I feel," Irving said. "I'm the only player that has to deal with this in New York City because I play there. If I was anywhere else in another city then it probably wouldn't be the same circumstances. But because I'm there, we have Eric Adams, we have the New York mandate, we have things going on that are real-life circumstances that are not just affecting me, bro. So you ask me these questions, I don't feel guilt."

Irving also referenced promises that were allegedly made to him by the league and the players association prior to the season. It's still not entirely clear what he's referring to, but he previously made similar comments on Instagram

"I'm just living my life as best I can just like everybody else that missed these last two years," Irving said. "I didn't have a plan in place while all this was going on, didn't know. The NBA and the NBPA made it very clear that there would be things that I would be able to do to work around this. And that's off the table. So you tell me if I'm just alone out here or do I have support from everybody else that's dealing with the same thing?" 

And though Irving said he doesn't feel guilty about leaving his team shorthanded at times, he did admit that it's "tough" to watch the games he's not allowed to play in. 

"It's always tough," Irving said. "It's been tough since the beginning. But there's even a lesson in that, of just being more engaged than I was even a few months back. Just getting closer together with the guys and being able to do things that make this place not feel like work every day. Whether I'm there or at home or not, if I'm playing games or not."

As things stand, Irving is eligible to play in just eight games the rest of the regular season. While the Nets have 11 road games remaining, he cannot play in the two at Madison Square Garden against the Knicks, nor the game in Toronto against the Raptors due to COVID-19 mandates in those two cities. 

With Irving unwilling to alter his stance, the only hope the Nets have of getting him back for home games in New York City removing the mandate. Nets GM Sean Marks noted earlier this week the team is "always going to be optimistic," on that front, but mayor Eric Adams gave no indication during a recent press conference that any change is imminent, saying he wants to "err on the side of caution."