Are Adam Silver’s comments on NYC vax mandate a sign of coming change?

Adam Silver Brooklyn Nets
NBA commissioner Adam Silver addresses the crowd after the game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Golden State Warriors at the American Airlines Center.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

One of the lingering questions for the Nets this year has continued to surround Kyrie Irving’s vaccination status. It hasn’t gone away and it won’t disappear anytime soon as Brooklyn hits the stretch run of the season — and NBA commissioner Adam Silver keeps being asked about it.

While Irving has had to address the topic on several occasions since he rejoined the team on a part-time basis, comments from those higher up in power at least appear to give some hope for change in the future. How near or far that might come is hard to say.

Irving has not been able to play home games this year because of a vaccine mandate in place in New York City. The requirement was put in place by former mayor Bill de Blasio and remained in effect after new mayor Eric Adams took office in January.

Silver was faced with a question about the hope of any change to the vaccine mandate during NBA All-Star Weekend, he told reporters that his sense was certain restrictions in place would be lifted.

“In terms of New York City, I’m not sure exactly what will happen specifically there,” Silver said. “As I watch what’s happening around the country, many of these restrictions are being lifted. And places that had vaccine requirements, and in some cases masking requirements, those are also being lifted. I haven’t talked directly to Mayor Adams about this, but judging based on what other communities are doing my assumption is they will look at local rates of infection and testing.

“And as those continue to come down, if they continue to come down as they have, my sense will be certain restrictions that are in place will be lifted, but again I leave that New York City.”

Silver had commented on the vaccine mandate in the five boroughs during an appearance on Get Up on ESPN earlier in the week where he questioned some of the common sense behind the mandate. Specifically what didn’t sit well with Silver was the fact that visiting players that were unvaccinated could still play at Madison Square Garden or at the Barclays Center.

However, Irving who plays for a team based in New York City could not.

After Silver’s comments, Mayor Adams was asked about it during a press conference about the city’s budget later in the day. Adams admitted that he also found the rule to be unfair, but he was concerned about the message lifting it would send.

“I am really leery about sending the wrong message,” Adams said on Wednesday. “Having the city close down again keeps me up at night and the message we put in place, the rule was put in place, to start changing it now I think it would send mixed messages. So I’m struggling with this, just to be honest with you.”

For now, the mandate will remain in place, but the increased comments from both the NBA commissioner’s office and last week’s comments from Mayor Adams seem to mean that the power’s that be are at least considering it.