Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving has not been able to play in home games at Barclays Center this season because of New York City’s vaccine mandate, but that could change soon. On Wednesday, New York City mayor Eric Adams addressed reporters and said he “can’t wait” to phase out the mask and vaccine mandates.
As of now, however, there is no specific timeline. Adams said he does not want to do anything that will “jeopardize closing down the city again,” and will release more specifics about the plan in the coming days.
Full exchange between Adams and reporter:
Reporter: “Boston, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. are all in the process, or already have phased out the vaccine passports for entering indoor spaces. Does New York have a plan to do that? Do you have metrics to do that? Will it be phased out soon like those other cities?”
Adams: “Yes, and I can’t wait to get it done. I take my hat off to New Yorkers. Through masks, vaccines, through social distancing. We were hit with the uncertainty, the fear of COVID. I’m really proud of how we responded as New Yorkers. Every morning I meet with my health professionals — I always say that I’m gonna follow the science. I’m not gonna get ahead of the science. Because I’m ready to get ahead of all of this and get ready to a level of normality, but they’re giving us clear instructions, they gave us benchmarks and we’re gonna follow those benchmarks.
“I look forward to the next few weeks of going through a real transformation that I don’t have to wonder what you look like. I will know what you look like again. We are moving in the right direction, we’re going to do it in a safe way, because all of these experts will tell you the same thing: We can’t close down again. We can’t close down again. I’m not going to do something out of my anticipation to get back that will jeopardize closing down the city again.
“Our economy can’t handle it. We don’t have another 11 billion dollars to put back in the economy. We must do it in a smart way, and people are gonna look back later and say, ‘you know, he made the right decisions.’ We’re gonna get the city back up and operating, and we’re gonna be rolling out some things in the next day or so about how we’re going to carry that out.”
The NBA does not have a vaccine mandate, and has always stressed that it will follow local and national health guidelines, which makes this the most encouraging news for Irving in months. If New York City eliminates its mandate, that will clear the way for him to play in home games for the first time all season.
Adams has always stressed caution in regards to this situation, so the mandates may remain in place for a while. However, after his comments on Wednesday it’s clear that they will be lifted sooner rather than later. The biggest question for Irving and the Nets is whether they’ll be gone before the start of the play-in tournament in just under seven weeks.
The Nets are currently in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, and 2.5 games behind the sixth-place Boston Celtics for the final guaranteed playoff spot. And with Kevin Durant (knee) and Ben Simmons (return to play protocols) sidelined indefinitely, and Irving still currently ruled out for home games, they’re trending toward hosting a play-in game. Everyone would expect them to get through that if necessary, but it would be much easier to do so with Irving on the floor.
Courtesy: CBS Sports