NBA Commissioner Adam Silver: NYC COVID-19 Vaccine Rule 'Doesn't Quite Make Sense'

Adam WellsFebruary 16, 2022

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks during a ring ceremony before an NBA basketball game between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Brooklyn Nets, Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
AP Photo/Morry Gash

NBA commissioner Adam Silver raised a valid criticism about New York City's vaccine mandate as it applies to players in the league. 

Appearing on ESPN's Get Up (h/t ESPN.com's Andrew Lopez), Silver said it "doesn't quite make sense" that the mandate only applies to home players.

"I think if ultimately that rule is about protecting people who are in the arena, it just doesn't quite make sense to me that an away player who is unvaccinated can play in Barclays but the home player can't. To me, that's a reason they should take a look at that ordinance," he explained.

New York City's vaccine mandate for large events has been a significant talking point this season, thanks in large part to Kyrie Irving. 

The Brooklyn Nets star has made it clear he won't get the COVID-19 vaccine, thus making him ineligible to play in home games. 

San Francisco has the same mandate that prevents home players from playing in games if they are unvaccinated. The Golden State Warriors, who are based in San Francisco, have a 100 percent vaccination rate among coaches and players.  

Unvaccinated players from outside markets are still eligible to play games in New York and San Francisco. They are prevented from traveling to Toronto for games against the Raptors because of restrictions imposed by the Canadian government. 

In December, Pat Graham of the Associated Press noted more than 60 percent of all NBA players had received a booster shot. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski previously reported the league had a 97 percent vaccine rate. 

Silver did emphasize his "personal view is people should get vaccinated and boosted" but noted that New York City's policy could potentially change at some point because Mayor Eric Adams wasn't in office when the mandate was adopted. 

Adams has not publicly given any indication he is thinking about changing the policy. His office announced on Monday that 1,430 city workers who had already been on leave without pay for months were fired for refusing to comply with a vaccine mandate that required them to get fully vaccinated. 

Irving, who the Nets initially kept away from the team before reversing course and allowing him to be a part-time player, has only appeared in 14 games this season. He won't be eligible to play again until Feb. 26 on the road against the Milwaukee Bucks. The Nets play the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday before wrapping up the first half at home against the Washington Wizards. 

Brooklyn's first game after the All-Star break will also be at home, against the Boston Celtics on Feb. 24.