Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving has gone through a bizarre season.
Prior to the start of the 2021 NBA regular season, Irving chose to remain unvaccinated, putting him at odds with a New York City mandate requiring at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in order to play in home games. His choice caused the Nets organization to sideline Irving until January 5, when Brooklyn General Manager Sean Marks allowed Irving to be a “part-time player,” meaning Irving is allowed to play in Brooklyn’s road games.
Irving’s part-time participation is a major issue for the Nets, who have been without former MVP Kevin Durant since January 16, after he suffered a sprained MCL. Brooklyn has lost 11 of their last 12 games and has traded James Harden for Ben Simmons since Durant’s injury, with reports coming out that Harden’s unhappiness in Brooklyn was largely caused by Irving’s unwillingness to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has publicly called for Irving to become vaccinated, imploring Irving to get the jab for “himself and his family” on the NBA’s opening night of the regular season.
“I’d tell him to get vaccinated, first and foremost for himself and his family,” Silver said. “Next, for his teammates and his community and also for the league that I know he cares so much about.”
Silver touted the vaccination as a “miracle,” saying that Irving will need to be vaccinated in order to be an “engaged member of society.”
“Science is firmly on the side of getting vaccinated. And this is in essence, a miracle vaccine … It’s already saved tens of millions of lives. I think, at some point, for Kyrie to be an engaged member of society — putting aside this league — he needs to get vaccinated,” Silver continued. “That’s the law in New York: if you want to play in an arena, if you want to visit an arena, if you want to participate in an activity in an arena, you need to be vaccinated, and that’s where he finds himself.”
But even Silver sees some of the hypocrisy behind New York City’s vaccine mandate which prohibits Irving from playing in Brooklyn’s home games at Barclays Arena.
“This law in New York, the oddity of it to me is that it only applies to home players,” Silver said on Wednesday. “I think if ultimately that rule is about protecting people who are in the arena, it just doesn’t quite make sense to me that an away player who is unvaccinated can play in Barclays but the home player can’t. To me, that’s a reason they should take a look at that ordinance.”
Per New York City regulations, visiting players are not subject to the vaccine requirement which applies to players of the Nets and the New York Knicks.
“So while, again, my personal view is people should get vaccinated and boosted, I can imagine a scenario where Brooklyn, as part of New York City, with a new mayor now who wasn’t in place, Eric Adams, when that original ordinance was put into place, I could see him deciding to change along the way and say it’s no longer necessary to have a mandatory vaccination requirement, as I said, particularly one that only affects home players,” Silver continued.
As the NBA approaches the All-Star break, Brooklyn currently sits in the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference, meaning they would be playing in the play-in tournament should the playoffs start today. Should the New York City mandate continue, the Nets would be without Irving for their home playoff games.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to [email protected]
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