Kyrie Irving cannot play basketball games in Brooklyn because, well, I don’t really understand why. The simple answer to why he’s forbidden from taking the court at Barclays Center is because he is unvaccinated, but when you break down the reasoning, Irving’s playing status seems to be related to politics more than science.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who took office on the first day of the new year, has kept his foot down despite push back from all sides on the private sector vaccine mandate in New York City. The mandate forces all businesses in New York City to make their employees show vaccination proof upon entrance to a workplace, including the Brooklyn Nets and all other sports teams in the city. However, the Mayor lifted the Key2NYC mandate on March 7, allowing Irving and others to enter Barclays Center without receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, but not play. So how does that make sense? It doesn’t.
Irving has attended every Nets game since the Key2NYC mandate has been lifted, sitting courtside and interacting with his teammates, making a mockery of the senseless rule. In addition to Irving being allowed in the arena, unvaccinated players from visiting teams are allowed to play on the Barclays Center court, just not Irving. New York City is now the only city that presents this issue in the NBA, as Los Angeles and San Francisco have both lifted their similar mandates in recent months.
It’s easy to say Irving should get the shot, and to a certain extent, I agree with that logic. As far as the public is concerned, Irving’s decision to be unvaccinated is purely by choice, as he has said previously in both press conferences and Instagram live streams. So for all of this nonsense to end, Irving could just get the shot in one second, play home games and make the Nets title favorites again. However, both the Adams administration and Irving have reached a point where they both feel comfortable with where things stand, and neither seem close to budging.
The argument that Irving should be allowed to play is more about common sense than anything else. Mayor Adams has the ability to provide an exemption for athletes, as many believe he will do for Mets and Yankees players by opening day on April 7, but it remains to be seen if he will do the same for Irving. As many have pointed out, Adams could use the fact that Mets and Yankees play outdoors as an excuse for letting unvaccinated baseball players play while keeping Irving off his home court.
Irving is only able to play in three of the Nets’ 10 remaining games and would not be eligible to play in a home play-in game should the Nets reach that point. Could the Nets reach their championship aspirations with Irving only playing half of their games? It’s certainly possible, especially considering the Nets would be a bottom seed, securing they will be on the road four out of seven games in a playoff series. But having Irving for each game would catapult the Nets’ odds of reaching the NBA Finals. It’s all up to Eric Adams.