Kyrie Irving, Nets waiting for Eric Adams’ COVID-19 mandate changes

Brooklynites are getting hopeful to finally seeing Kyrie Irving play in Barclays Center. But the most high-profile Nets fan of all vows if and when it happens, it’ll be based on safety, not on sports.

Irving has been inligible to play in New York City because of his refusal to adhere to the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. After Mayor Eric Adams announced Wednesday he has concrete plans to loosen those mandates, he was asked on a recent TV appearance if it could happen in time for Irving to start playing for the Nets’ playoff run.

“It is something that people are asking about,” Adams said Friday morning on PIX11. “Listen, you bring a championship game here, you bring in millions of dollars in revenue, but we cannot base our decisions on sports.

“The real game we’re fighting is a game of safety and health, and we’re going to make the right decision for New Yorkers. I want that championship ring, but not at the expense of making sure we shut down our city again – and if it falls in line (it) falls in line, if it’s not we got to make the right decision for New Yorkers.”

Kyrie Irving has refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and has sat out of every home game this season as a result.

With the city recording 1,106 cases on Wednesday according to state health department data — a 98 percent dip from Omicron’s peak — Adams praised lifting the outdoor mask rule and spoke about protocols loosening up.

“Eventually we’re going to move to the place to ease up on many of these mandates so we can get back to a level of normality that we are looking for,” Adams said on PIX11.

Eric Adams
NYC mayor Eric Adams announced that he has a plan to strip back the city’s COVID vaccine mandate.

Irving has only played 14 games so far this, all on the road. At this point he’s barred from playing in Barclays Center, the Garden and Toronto, and has shown no inclination whatsoever to get inoculated with the currently available vaccines.

Now it seems likely he won’t have to.

“It’s great, obviously. It’d be great for us to have Kyrie available for all our games. Having said that, who knows? It’s not really in our control, so we leave it up to the mayor and wait patiently,” Brooklyn coach Steve Nash said recently.

“I think he’s working towards being able to play in every game, so if the mandate is lifted, the expectation would be that he could play in all our games. I think that’s what he’s been waiting for, what he’s excited about, and if the opportunity arises, the plan and the goal is for him to play every night.”

Irving is averaging 24.2 points, 5.4 assists and 4.8 rebounds. And despite the Nets being just 4-10 with him in the lineup, getting Irving on the court Saturday at defending champion Milwaukee will be key.

The All-Star point guard can finally start to build some chemistry with newcomers Seth Curry and Andre Drummond, who arrived at the trade deadline and haven’t had a chance to play alongside Irving yet. He can also afford a clearly-tired Patty Mills some much needed rest.

Still, there are no set dates for the city to roll back vaccine mandates, or guarantees that Irving will play home games before the postseason.

“Oh, man, you know, that’s a whole other fight. Of course we would love for him to play, and course it doesn’t make sense. But I don’t make the rules on that, you know? Hopefully soon we can have him with us every game, though,” said Brooklyn forward James Johnson, who was mildly encouraging by mayor Adams’ comments but was taking a ‘show me’ approach.

“Of course. But I don’t really get too encouraged with what people say.”


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