NBA commissioner Adam Silver said that the NYC vaccine mandate that doesn’t allow Brooklyn Nets’ star Kyrie Irving to play at home, but lets unvaccinated visiting players participate in games at the Barclays Center, “doesn’t quite make sense.”
Irving was forced to sit out at the beginning of the 2021 NBA season, when the city passed the mandate, and the Nets organization refused to let him play in away games.
The team changed their tune in early January, when the Omicron variant ravaged their roster along with the rest of the leagues. General Manager Sean Marks announced that Irving would be allowed to participate as a “part-time player” during the Nets’ road games.
Despite Irving’s assistance at away games, the team has been on a losing streak since Kevin Durant suffered a January 16 knee injury and superstar James Harden was traded to the 76ers for Ben Simmons.
Marks noted that Irving “is frustrated that he’s not able to be there” at both home and away games while his team is flailing.
The league’s commissioner encouraged Irving to get vaccinated, so he will be allowed to be an “engaged member of society,” but pointed out the hypocrisy of the city’s vaccine rules as they apply to NBA players.
“This law in New York, the oddity of it to me is that it only applies to home players,” Silver said. “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.”
He clarified that he personally believes people should get vaccinated, but subtly put the players’ ball into the city mayor’s court.
“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 concluded.