Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash told reporters Wednesday that unvaccinated point guard Kyrie Irving would be welcomed back to the team if New York City's vaccine mandate for professional athletes ever becomes less strict.
Brian Lewis @NYPost_Lewis
Steve Nash said he presumes if mayor elect Eric Adams loosens the city's Covid vaccine mandates - a huge if, since he was very pro-vaccine - Kyrie Irving would be welcomed back with open arms, vaccinated or no. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Nets?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Nets</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NBA?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NBA</a>
NYC Mayor-elect Eric Adams did leave the door open for some potential changes regarding the city's mandates.
"We need to revisit how we are going to address the vaccine mandates," he said on MSNBC's Morning Joe show Wednesday (h/t Amanda Woods and Sam Raskin of the New York Post). "Now, I stated I did not want to Monday-morning-quarterback the mayor. This is his time to be the man, he has to make the decisions."
"I hope the mayor—and I am encouraging him to do that—to sit down with unions and come to a resolution," Adams added on CNN's New Day regarding the vaccine mandate for New York City's municipal workers. "And if he doesn't, if this is still going to January, I'm going to sit down with them and we're going to get this resolved."
As a part of those mandates, professional athletes playing for the city's teams have to be vaccinated to be granted access to venues like the Barclays Center, where the Nets play, or Madison Square Garden.
That has meant that Irving is ineligible to play in home games for the Nets. Given that he would essentially be missing half of the team's games, the Nets and Irving have agreed he would remain away from the team until he's either vaccinated or New York City's mandates change.
"I chose to be unvaccinated, and that was my choice, and I would ask you all to just respect that choice," Irving said on Instagram Live in October. "I am going to just continue to stay in shape, be ready to play, be ready to rock out with my teammates and just be part of this whole thing. This is not a political thing; this is not about the NBA, not about any organization. This is about my life and what I am choosing to do."
"I am staying grounded in what I believe in," he added. "It is as simple as that. It is not about being anti-vax or about being on one side or the other. It is just really about being true to what feels good for me. … If I am going to be demonized for having more questions and taking my time to make a decision with my life, that is just what it is. … I know the consequences of the decisions that I make with my life. I am not here to sugarcoat any of that."
For the Nets, it means they're without one of their three stars in a season where they were the favorites to win the NBA title. The Big Three of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Irving is currently just a Big Two.
The Nets haven't exactly started the season on fire, with a modest 4-3 record. Getting back Irving would obviously be a major boost. Whether that happens, however, may not be resolved until Adams takes office in January.