Nets guard Kyrie Irving has yet to play at the Barclays Center this season, barred from playing in home games due to New York City’s vaccine mandate.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the rule “doesn’t quite make sense,” during an appearance on ESPN’s Get Up Wednesday morning. The rule, while it bars unvaccinated Nets players from suiting up, permits unvaccinated players from opposing teams to play.
“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.”
It certainly is puzzling, as there’s zero difference in a home player and an away player playing while unvaccinated. Why it’s even mentioned in the ordinance to begin with creates more questions, as Silver said.
With New York City under new leadership now that Mayor Eric Adams has been sworn in, Silver expressed optimism that the mandates might loosen up. Silver, a New York native himself, cited the increasing number of people going out in the city in recent months.
“Being here in the New York market, the feeling particularly in the last week, many of the masking restrictions are being lifted,” Silver said. “You can just feel it in the city. There are more people in restaurants. There are more people out and about. While, again, my personal view is people should get vaccinated and boosted, I can imagine a scenario where Brooklyn as part of New York City, with a new mayor who wasn’t in place, Eric Adams, when that ordinance was put in place.
“I can see him deciding to change along the way and say, ‘It’s no longer necessary to have a mandatory vaccination requirement.’ Particularly one that only affects home players.”
Irving, who has only played in 14 games this season, said to reporters in Miami Saturday that he felt no guilt in his decision to remain unvaccinated.
“There’s no guilt that I feel,” Irving said. “I’m the only player that has to deal with this in New York City because I play there. If I was anywhere else in another city, then it probably wouldn’t be the same circumstances. But because I’m there, we have Eric Adams, we have the New York mandate, we have things going on that are real-life circumstances that are not just affecting me, bro. So you ask me these questions, I don’t feel guilt.
“I’m just living my life as best I can, just like everybody else that missed these last two years. I didn’t have a plan in place while all this was going on, didn’t know. The NBA and the NBPA made it very clear that there would be things that I would be able to do to work around this. And that’s off the table. So you tell me if I’m just alone out here or do I have support from everybody else that’s dealing with the same thing?”
Meanwhile, the Nets have slipped from the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference standings to No. 8. Brooklyn snapped an 11-game losing streak against Sacramento Monday, in just the second game since the blockbuster trade with the 76ers centered around James Harden and Ben Simmons.
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