NBA commish Adam Silver says NYC vax mandate ‘doesn’t quite make sense’

Adam Silver NBA
NBA commissioner Adam Silver during the second quarter between the Golden State Warriors and the LA Clippers at Chase Center.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

NBA commissioner Adam Silver openly criticized the New York City vaccine mandate that has kept Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving from playing games inside the five boroughs, saying it “‘doesn’t quite make sense.”

Silver was making an appearance on ESPN’s Get Up when the topic was broached by host Mike Greenberg. Irving has been unable to play at the Barclays Center this season because of his status as unvaccinated, and he is unable to play games at Madison Square Garden as well.

The criticism from Silver came in terms of the rule only being applied to players that are on teams in the New York market. Visiting players that are unvaccinated can still suit up for games in Brooklyn or Manhattan.

“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.

“I’ll say also being here in the New York market, feeling particularly in the last week, many of the masking restrictions are being lifted. You can just feel it in the city, there are more people in restaurants, more people out and about.”

Silver is not wrong when it comes to the drop in cases and the lifting of restrictions in neighboring cities and states. Philadelphia became the latest region to begin to ease restrictions, announcing they were lifting the vaccine mandate for indoor dining.

However, it’s unclear if the administration of new Mayor Eric Adams is considering any changes to its vaccine mandate. As recently as two weeks ago a spokesperson for the mayor’s office told Chris Hayes that there were currently no plans to amend the mandate.

That hasn’t kept the Nets, Irving to now Silver from holding out hope things change.

“So 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 now who wasn’t in place, Eric Adams, when that original ordinance was put into place, I could see him deciding to change along the way and say it’s no longer necessary to have a mandatory vaccination requirement, as I said particularly one that only affects home players,” Silver said.

The vaccine mandate wasn’t the only piece of Nets news that Silver commented on during his Wednesday appearance.

Silver had previously said in another interview that he had wished the trade between the Philadelphia 76ers and Nets had been handled more privately. He expanded on those thoughts on ESPN.

“Ideally, when players want to get traded or teams are preparing to make moves, those are conversations that have confidentially with players, they have confidentially with other teams,” Silver said. “Obviously, in this case, it not played out publicly but it’s been playing out since the season even began particularly with Philly.”

The NBA commissioner added that the data showed that superstars moving teams wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but he doesn’t want it to become a trend where superstars jumping ship mid-contract becomes the norm.

“It gives teams that may not be in a competitive position hope that they can sign one of those players,” Silver said. “But shorter contracts to me is something very different and free agents moving at the end of contracts is different than what we just saw where you have players actively seeking to move while they’re under contract. The data is clear on that. That’s not good for the league.”