NYC Will Lift Vaccine Mandate, but Still Won’t Let Kyrie Irving Play at Nets’ Home Games

By Erik Drost - Kyrie Irving, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=63505322

With New York City set to lift vaccine and mask mandates on March 7th, but mayor Eric Adams said that letting unvaccinated Brooklyn Nets’ star Kyrie Irving play at home would “send the wrong message.” 

When the public COVID-19 restrictions lift next week, Irving will be once again allowed to enter the Barclays Arena as a spectator, but not play in home games, due to the city’s private-sector vaccine mandate remaining in place. 

The city’s employers are not allowed to let unvaccinated staffers enter the workplace, unless they have been granted an exception for religious or medical purposes. 

Irving alluded to being promised an exemption earlier in the season, when he argued that people were losing their jobs over vaccine mandates.  

“What would you do if you felt uncomfortable going into the season when you were promised that you would have exemptions, or that you didn’t have to be forced to get the vaccine? This wasn’t an issue before the season started,” he said in October. 

Adams remains firm that Irving stays off his home court until he gets the jab. “Listen, I want Kyrie on the court. I would do anything to get that ring,” Adams commented. “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,” he continued. “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.’”

Adams did admit that it was confounding that Irving can’t play in Brooklyn, but visiting players who are unvaccinated can take to the court.  

“Makes no sense,” he explained. “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,” Adams concluded. “And trust me, I want Kyrie on the court. We are here right now opening our city because of vaccine mandates.”

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