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Inside The NBA Devotes Opening Night Halftime To Kyrie Irving, Vaccine

“You don’t get vaccinated just for yourself.”

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For good or for bad, Kyrie Irving and his stance on the Covid-19 vaccine have been the talk of the NBA offseason with many analysts giving their views on what they believe Kyrie should do.

During halftime of the Brooklyn Nets season opener on TNT, the cast of Inside the NBA gave their takes on the issue.

Kenny Smith started, saying that he felt empathy for Kyrie’s position and that it comes down to how comfortable people are with “what you’ve read and what you understand.” about the vaccine.

Charles Barkley very visibly was grimacing at this, and argued saying “First of all, you don’t get the vaccine for yourself, you get it for other people.”

“I got vaccinated. I can’t wait to get the booster,” he continued. “You don’t get vaccinated just for yourself. Like Adam [Silver] said, you get vaccinated for your family first, you get vaccinated for your teammates second. I am proud of the Nets for putting their foot down, for saying no we aren’t going to deal with this half on and half off.”

Barkley then vehemently disagreed with those applauding Kyrie for standing up for what he believes in, and comparing what he is doing to the late boxer Muhammad Ali.

“People said he is like Ali, first of all don’t ever compare anybody to Ali. Ali went three years without boxing, he was the highest-paid athlete in the world. This guy is going to make $17 million for sitting at home.”

There were many people on social media on both sides of the fence, either agreeing with Barkley or condemning his comments.

Shaq then agreed with Barkley on his stance, saying “I had some second thoughts, but I said I’m not going to get Dr. Lucille O’Neal sick.” referring to his mother.

Barkley then gave a shout out to one of his former teammates, Cedric Ceballos who was in the hospital for 20 days with serious symptoms from Covid, but returned home in late September.

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FOX Sports Sees Record-Setting Ratings Weekend

The World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.

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FOX Sports has been home to a number of record-setting games in terms of viewership over the last several days.

In addition to FOX Sports setting a new mark for a Thanksgiving and regular season NFL audience, the World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.

The network reported the U.S./England match in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup averaged 15.377 million. It was the most-watched English-language soccer game in the U.S. ever, topping the 1994 World Cup final between Italy and Brazil.

Viewership of the match was up 11% compared to the second group stage contest for the U.S. team in 2014 against Portugal. The audience peaked at 19.646 million from 3:30-3:45 p.m.

FOX Sports also reported the Michigan/Ohio State game on Saturday drew in 17 million, which made it the most-watched regular season college game on the network ever. That figure was also the highest of any regular season contest since 2011. That game also saw the audience peak at 19.6 million.

Viewership for the game was up 3% compared to last year.

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ESPN Bowl Plans Could Be Altered By NFL Flex Scheduling

“While this situation poses a challenge, we are accustomed to flexibility and having to maneuver our event schedules.”

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ESPN could be forced to adjust its upcoming bowl season schedule if the NFL decides to flex a Las Vegas Raiders game a week before Christmas.

ESPN announced its contingency plans for two bowl contests, the Las Vegas Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl. The Las Vegas Bowl is currently planned to kick off from Allegiant Stadium at 7:30 p.m. on December 17. The Raiders right now are still planning to play in the Sunday night game the next night against the Patriots.

Should the NFL decide to flex the Raiders out of the SNF window, ESPN will swap kickoff times between the Las Vegas Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl. That would mean the game in sin city will kick off at 11:30 a.m. local time, with the contest in Albuquerque starting at 5:20 p.m. local time that evening.

“The SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl and New Mexico Bowl are both owned and operated by ESPN Events, so this change is a solution that will work for all parties,” ESPN Events vice president Clint Overby said. “While this situation poses a challenge, we are accustomed to flexibility and having to maneuver our event schedules. We are more than prepared to move forward with this revised schedule if necessary.”

Kickoff times will be determined well enough ahead that the schools taking part in both games shouldn’t be adversely affected.

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NFL Thanksgiving Games Set Ratings Records

FOX Sports added that viewership was up 49% compared to 2021.

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The Thanksgiving slate of NFL games last week brought in the largest audiences ever. Viewership across all three games averaged 33.5 million.

The game with the largest viewership was Giants/Cowboys in the 4:30 p.m. window. FOX Sports reported that 42 million watched Dallas beat New York 28-20. It is the largest regular season audience ever, surpassing the previous leader set 32 years ago.

The network added that viewership was up 49% compared to 2021. FOX carried the Detroit Lions traditional noon Thanksgiving game last year. Compared to the Cowboys turkey day contest on CBS in 2021, viewership was up 3%.

The Bills/Lions game in the early window on CBS averaged 31.627 million, with the audience peaking at 41.981 million. It was the most-watched early Thanksgiving game on record.

Patriots/Vikings on NBC in the nightcap averaged 25.9 million. That figure was up 24% compared to Bills/Saints a year ago, with NBC Sports claiming it’s the second most-watched primetime Thanksgiving game on record. The game was simulcast in Spanish on Telemundo, which averaged 565,000 viewers and made it the most-watched NFL game ever on the network.

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