Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving will be allowed to play in Nets home games starting Sunday against the Charlotte Hornets, after New York City mayor Eric Adams announced an exemption on Thursday for professional athletes to the city’s private sector vaccine mandate.
“Today I signed emergency Executive Order 62, expanding the performance exemption to private employer mandates,” Adams said on Thursday. “This is about putting New York City based performance on a level playing field. Day one when I was mayor, I looked at the rule that stated ‘home town players had an unfair disadvantage to those who we’re coming to visit.’”
“And immediately, I felt that we needed to look at that,” Adams continued. “But my medical professionals said, ‘Eric, we’re at a different place. We have to wait until we’re at a place we’re at a low area and we can re-examine some of the mandates.’ We’re here today.”
NYC Mayor Eric Adams has officially expanded the city's vaccine mandate exemption for athletes and performers.
Kyrie Irving can now play in home games.pic.twitter.com/ftMFIhGMd9
— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) March 24, 2022
Unvaccinated members of the New York Yankees and New York Mets will now be allowed to play in home games as Major League Baseball’s 2022 regular season starts April 7.
Just this week, Adams said that masks for 2-4-year-old kids will be optional in schools and daycares starting April 4, but said that the private sector vaccine mandate, which is impacting professional athletes in the city, would remain.
“Right now, we’re going to take some complaints. But when this is all said and done, people are going to realize this is a thoughtful administration and we got it right. So, baseball, basketball, businesses, all of those things, they have to wait until that layer comes. And right now, we’re announcing just our 2-4-year-olds,” Adams said at a press conference on Tuesday.
“Believe it or not, a lot of our businesses, they love the mandates,” Adams continued. “When I speak to a lot of my businesses, getting people back into the office, that mandate is allowing them to feel safe in the office. For those who feel they would rather the vaccine mandate to be in place. But again, we’re going to do it in layers. And when we feel that it’s the right time to look at that — if we do so at all — because the work environment is an important environment. We’re going to make that determination. We’re not there yet.”
It’s been a wild year for Irving, who has yet to play in a Nets home game due to being unvaccinated against COVID-19.
In September, Irving participated in his team’s Media Day virtually, raising questions about his COVID-19 vaccination status. In order for Irving to be eligible to play in Brooklyn home games, he needed to have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. His absence pointed to him abstaining from the jab.
In October, Nets general manager Sean Marks put out a statement saying that Irving will not be part of the organization “until he is eligible to be a full participant,” meaning that Irving would be shelved even from practices until he received the vaccine.
The following day, Irving took to Instagram to tell the world that he was indeed unvaccinated, saying that “nobody should be forced to do anything with their bodies.”
Then, in December, as the Nets were being ravaged by a new COVID-19 variant as well as injuries, the Nets did an about-face, allowing Irving to return to the team in order to play in Brooklyn’s road games.
Since then, Irving has played in 20 road games, averaging 28.5 points and 5.5 assists per game as the Nets attempt to find some level of chemistry.
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]