New York City is aiming to end its public mask and vaccine mandate on March 7, but that doesn’t mean that Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving will finally be able to play in home games at Barclays Arena.
NYC’s private-sector vaccine mandate is still in place, meaning that the unvaccinated point guard will still not be allowed to play in Brooklyn home games.
“Employers may not allow any unvaccinated employees to report to their physical workplace, unless they have requested and received an accommodation,” the guideline states.
NYC mayor Eric Adams joined CNBC on Monday, and said that granting an exception to Irving would “send the wrong message.”
“Listen, I want Kyrie on the court. I would do anything to get that ring,” Adams said. “So badly, I want it. But there’s so much at stake here. And I spoke with the owner of the team. We want to find a way to get Kyrie on the court, but this is a bigger issue. I can’t have my city closed down again. It would send the wrong message just to have an exception for one player when we’re telling countless number of New York City employees, ‘If you don’t follow the rules, you won’t be able to be employed.'”
While Irving is not allowed to play in Brooklyn, unvaccinated visiting NBA players are allowed to play at Barclays Center, which Adams did say “makes no sense.”
“Makes no sense,” he added. “And I don’t know who thought of putting such a ridiculous rule in place, of away teams can come and play. … But these are the rules. And I have to follow the rules. If I don’t, I’m going to open the door that’s sending the wrong message to everyday employees. Businesses have their vaccine mandate. City employees have their vaccine mandates. I have to follow the rules. And trust me, I want Kyrie on the court. We are here right now opening our city because of vaccine mandates.”
here's Eric Adams on Kyrie on CNBC:
"It would send the wrong message just to have an exception for one player when we're telling countless number of New York City employees 'If you don’t follow the rules, we won’t be able to be employed.'" pic.twitter.com/N8dbv094SR
— James Herbert (@outsidethenba) February 28, 2022
Adams isn’t the only individual who sees the hypocrisy of allowing visiting players to remain unvaccinated. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said he could imagine a scenario in which Adams reversed the mandate, while also saying the rule “doesn’t quite make sense.”
“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.”
“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.
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.
As cities around the country had started to loosen vaccine and masking mandates, there has been hope within the NBA that Irving would be allowed to play in home games. Adams statements on Monday certainly dampened that hope, and is a blow to Brooklyn’s chances of making a deep postseason run with the NBA Playoffs around the corner.
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]