Even as New York City Mayor Eric Adams reiterated that he wouldn’t make any special changes the private sector vaccine mandate preventing Kyrie Irving from playing at home, the Nets remain hopeful that things will change.
Nets CEO John Abbamondi reiterated that point on Tuesday when asked about it by amNewYork and The Brooklyn Game. Abbamondi appeared at P.S. 12 / M.S. 484 as part of a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open a new food pantry in the Brooklyn neighborhood Ocean Hill Brownsville.
“Those questions are best addressed by our GM Sean Marks, but I will say we’re in close contact with the city,” Abbamondi said. “We’re optimistic the infection rates in the city will continue to go down and that the restrictions will be lifting gradually for everybody in the city. That’s the most important thing.”
The Nets have been through a roller coaster of emotions over the past few days after Mayor Adams announced he would lift the key2NYC vaccine mandate on March 7 as long as COVID rates continued to fall. That prompted the belief that Irving would be able to play home games, but that was quickly dashed when it was reported and confirmed by Adams’ press secretary that the city’s private sector mandate would still keep the Nets’ superstar off the hardwood in Brooklyn.
Adams reaffirmed that point during an interview on CNBC on Monday.
“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 during the interview.
For now, Irving is only eligible for seven of Brooklyn’s remaining games this season and if the season ended right now he would be unable to play in any of the play-in-round games against the Toronto Raptors. The Nets remain in eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
While the ongoing saga has gotten fans down, Abbamondi pointed to the ongoing changes throughout the country to the local COVID restrictions and the increased number of those who have been vaccinated as a reason to remain optimistic.
“I think there is a general recognition that we face a much different situation than we faced in 2020,” Abbamondi said. “We went from zero percent of the population vaccinated to roughly 80% of adults in New York City I believe are vaccinated. Most of those who aren’t, have some level of immunity from prior infection. I think we’re just in a much different place as a society and I think my personal opinion is you’re going to continue to see the policies in place reflect that.”
Irving’s next game will not come until Sunday when the Nets face the Boston Celtics at TD Garden.