NBA fines Nets $50K for unvaccinated Kyrie Irving entering the locker room

Nets guard Kyrie Irving enters Barclays Center during the second quarter of the team's game against the Knicks.
Nets guard Kyrie Irving enters Barclays Center during the second quarter of the team’s game against the Knicks.
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA has fined the Brooklyn Nets $50,000 for violating New York City laws by allowing unvaccinated Kyrie Irving to enter the team’s locker room after their matchup with the Knicks on Sunday afternoon.

New York City, under the direction of Mayor Eric Adams, lifted the mandate for businesses to check the vaccine status of patrons, which allowed Irving to enter the arena as an observer. The requirement that employees of New York City businesses get inoculated, however, remains in effect — meaning Irving is still barred from playing games within the Five Boroughs. 

After the Sunday game, in which Kevin Durant scored 53 points during the winning effort, Irving entered the team’s locker room, which violated the city’s current regulations, as well as the NBA’s mandate that teams follow local laws. 

Following the contest, future Hall-of-Famer Kevin Durant made headlines when he blasted the mayor for the situation allowing Irving to attend the game, but not play in the matchup, saying it “didn’t make any sense.” 

“It’s ridiculous. I don’t understand it at all,” Durant said. “It just feels like at this point now somebody is trying to make a statement or a point to flex their authority. Everybody out here looking for attention and that’s what I feel like the mayor wants right now is some attention, but he’ll figure it out soon. He better, but it just didn’t make any sense.”

A far more conciliatory Durant issued a statement on Monday, clearing up his frustrations, and saying he “appreciated” the difficult situation Adams finds himself in.

“The last two years have been a difficult and painful time for New Yorkers, as well as a very confusing time with the changing landscape of the rules and mandates,” Durant said. “I do appreciate the task the Mayor has in front of him with all the city has been through. My frustration with the situation doesn’t change the fact that I will always be committed to helping the communities and cities I live in, and play in.”  

Responding to a heckler who questioned Adams’ handling of the situation, and demanded that Irving be allowed to return to action, Hizzoner sent a simple message to the All-Star point guard.

“You’re right, sir you’re right,” Adams responded. “Listen, you’re right. Kyrie can play tomorrow. Get vaccinated.” 

The team is sorely missing Irving’s presence at home games, as they hover just above a .500 record at 35-33, which puts them as the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference — meaning they would need to win in the NBA’s play-in tournament to continue a potential playoff run, should the season end today. 

Irving will be allowed to play in the team’s next game, which comes in Orlando on March 15 against the Magic, but he will miss the following three games at Barclays Center against the Dallas Mavericks on March 16, the Portland Trailblazers on March 18, and the Utah Jazz on March 21.