Unvaccinated Kyrie Irving Finally Attends Nets Home Game—But Only As A Fan


Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving attended one of his team’s home games for the first time this season Sunday following New York City Mayor Eric Adam’s recent lift of Covid-19 vaccination requirements for entertainment venues, but Irving could only appear in street clothes as a spectator, as the city’s private sector mandate is still in effect—meaning Irving must be vaccinated to be a player and employee of the Nets.

Key Facts

Irving sat in his own courtside season tickets, often used by his family, for Sunday’s matchup against the New York Knicks, and was able to roam Barclays Center freely and maskless—even joining his team in the locker room at halftime, according to The Athletic and ESPN.

Adams lifted the Covid-19 vaccine mandate for indoor venues like restaurants, fitness facilities and entertainment spaces on March 7, but left regulations in place for private sector employees, meaning Nets players are still required to be vaccinated in order to play at Barclays Center.

Fans cheered for Irving as he took his seat Sunday.

Crucial Quote

Adams has stood by the private sector mandate. During a press conference in Brooklyn Sunday, Adams responded to a New Yorker asking about Irving’s continued inability to play for his team at home, saying, “You’re right. Kyrie can play tomorrow. Get vaccinated.”

Chief Critic

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who has been a staunch advocate of the Covid-19 vaccine and has repeatedly touted that around 97% of players in the league are vaccinated, told ESPN last month he thinks New York City’s mandates, which allow unvaccinated players from other teams to play in Barclays Center as they are not Nets employees, do not “quite make sense.”

Key Background

Following Irving’s decision to remain unvaccinated as the 2021-22 NBA season began, the Nets initially elected to keep him away from the team entirely rather than allow him to play in away games in cities without vaccine mandates. Nets general manager Sean Marks said in October, “We will not permit any member of our team to participate with part-time availability.” However, in December, as injuries and Covid-19-related absences left the Nets with few able bodies, they activated Irving as an away-only player. Irving has played well in his 18 appearances so far this season, averaging just under 26 points per game on nearly 48% shooting. Last week, he scored a season-high 50 points against the Charlotte Hornets.

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Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/masonbissada/2022/03/13/unvaccinated-kyrie-irving-finally-attends-nets-home-game-but-only-as-a-fan/