New York City Mayor Eric Adams wants to see Kyrie Irving on the court, but he won’t be changing the mandate that has kept the Nets superstar from playing at Barclays Center.
Despite an announcement on Sunday that the city would lift the Key2NYC mandate that required patrons of city restaurants, entertainment venues and other places to be vaccinated, Irving is still being barred from playing home games because of New York’s private-sector mandate. That rule requires that any employee of a city-based business must be vaccinated in order to be employed.
“I would give anything to get that ring. So badly I want it, but there’s so much at stake here,” Adams said during a Monday morning interview with CNBC. “I spoke with the owner of the team (Joe Tsai). We want to find a way to get Kyrie on the court, but this is a bigger issue. I can’t have my city close down again.”
here's Eric Adams on Kyrie on CNBC:
"It would send the wrong message just to have an exception for one player when we're telling countless number of New York City employees 'If you don’t follow the rules, we won’t be able to be employed.'" pic.twitter.com/N8dbv094SR
— James Herbert (@outsidethenba) February 28, 2022
COVID numbers have continued to drop across the five boroughs and the United States, which has led to a number of major American cities to lift their restrictions. The Key2NYC mandate would be done away with on March 7 if all goes according to plan.
Still, Adams’ concern lay with the message it would send to change the rule for just one person. Not only does New York City mandate all private-sector employees to be vaccinated, but municipal workers as well.
That led to the dismissal of nearly 1,500 city employees in February for refusing to get the jab.
“It would send the wrong message just to have an expectation for one player when we’re telling a countless number of New York City employees if you don’t follow the rules you won’t be able to be employed. That’s not the right thing to do,” Adams said.
There has been some thought to the Nets openly flouting the rules by allowing Irving to play and just paying the fine in the local press, but could create major headaches for the team and the league. And there is the question of whether the NBA would be even accepting of that from one of its clubs.
The league had already sent out a memo prior to the start of the season that appeared to squash that idea right from the jump.
For those wondering what the NBA stance is on NYC regulations, it was spelled out in October. The League recognized local supremacy. pic.twitter.com/GWl0hO8Fxf
— NetsDaily (@NetsDaily) January 12, 2022
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has questioned the application of New York’s mandate and how much sense it really made for visiting players to be able to play at Barclays or Madison Square Garden even if they weren’t vaccinated, but Irving couldn’t. The Mayor agreed with Silver and reiterated his agreement with that point on Monday, but wasn’t willing to budge to make any changes about it.
“I don’t know who thought of putting such a ridiculous rule in place of away team can come and play,” Mayor Eric Adams said. “But these are the rules and I have to follow thee rules. If I don’t I’m going to open the door that is sending the wrong message to everyday employees. Business have their vaccine mandates. City employees have their vaccine mandates. I have to follow the rules and trust me I want Kyrie on the court.”
The verbiage for the city’s vaccine mandates were originally put in place by former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Adams has kept those in place since he took office in January.
There had appeared to be momentum for some change to the mandates that have prevented Irving from playing games in Brooklyn, as well as at Madison Square Garden. The Nets and Irving have maintained a positive public stance when they’ve been asked about the possibility of the star being allowed to play home games