Kyrie Irving OK to play at Barclays Center in ‘coming weeks’ as NYC phases out vax mandate

Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving during the game against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center.
Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

There appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel for Kyrie Irving and the Nets.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams indicated on Wednesday that a plan was coming for the phasing out of vaccine mandates in the five boroughs. A spokesperson for Mayor Adams later confirmed to the Athletic’s Shams Charania that vaccine mandate would be done away with over the next few weeks, which would then allow for  Kyrie Irving to play at Barclays Center.

“Yes, and I can’t wait to get it done,” Adams said when asked at a press conference if the city had a plan to phase out the vaccine mandate. “Every morning I meet with my health professional cause I’ve always stated I’m going to follow the science. I’m not going to get ahead of the science, because I’m ready to get ahead of all of this and get back to a level of normalcy. But they’re giving us clear structures. They gave us benchmarks. We’re going to follow those benchmarks, but I look forward in the next few weeks of going through a real transformation that I don’t have to wonder what you look like.

“I would know what you look like again. We’re moving in the right direction. We’re going to do it in a safe way.”

As of now, the current rules remain in effect. The protocols have prevented Kyrie Irving, who has remained one of the few unvaccinated players in the NBA, from playing any home games at Barclays Center or as a visiting player at Madison Square Garden.

The remarks were the clearest from New York City’s new mayor in regards to rolling back COVD restrictions. It comes as other big cities across the United States have announced plans to or already have rescinded vaccine mandates and other COVID-related edicts.

Boston and Washington D.C. have already lifted their restrictions and Chicago announced on Tuesday that it would no longer require proof of vaccination or masks for indoor spaces starting on Feb. 28. Mayor Adams has remained cautious in his approach to lifting any mandates in New York.

“I’m not going to do something out of my anticipation to get back that is going to jeopardize closing down the city again,” Adams said. “We must do it in a smart way and people are going to look  back later and say ‘you know he made the right decisions.’ We’re going to get the city back up and operating and we’re going to be rolling out some things  in  the next day or so on how we’re going to carry that out.”

The Nets’ patience is appearing to pay off when it’s come to trying to take an even-keeled approach to the city’s vaccine mandate. Publically the Nets have not lobbed any criticisms of the mandate, and it’s only been recently that the NBA has publically questioned some of the fairness of the mandate.

Under the order, visiting players and performers who are unvaccinated can compete and perform at Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden. During an appearance on ESPN last week, NBA commissioner Adam Silver questioned the logic behind that and Adams agreed later in the same day that the application of the rule was unfair.

Nets general manager Sean Marks was asked again about his optimism for Irving to be able to play at home before the playoffs during a season ticket holder event on Tuesday.

“I have to be optimistic like everybody here,” Marks said. “I think we all know what’s at stake here. If you turn on CNN or BBC or Fox or whatever your flavor is, you see how everything is changing. … I think we can see each city, and whether it’s city or state, starting to change the rules. We’re starting to see a sense of normality again getting back to life. We have to go on. Vaccine rates are obviously high, so I am optimistic. I have to be optimistic, I think it’s the only way to look at this.”

With a lack of full details from Adams’ office, it’s still unclear when Irving could make his Barclays Center debut.  The Nets have 23 games remaining on their schedule, with Irving only eligible for eight of them under the City’s current mandate.