Kyrie Irving, the Nets’ star guard, will still be ineligible to play in home games at Barclays Center in Brooklyn if New York City lifts its vaccine mandate for restaurants, gyms and most indoor spaces, as Mayor Eric Adams said Sunday he intended to do by March 7 if Covid-19 cases remain low.
Irving, who is unvaccinated against the coronavirus, will still be subject to a separate private sector vaccine mandate.
Fabien Levy, a press secretary for Adams, confirmed as much on Sunday, writing on Twitter, “Fastest way for all New Yorkers to get back to normal life is for us ALL to get vaccinated.”
It’s unclear if the private sector mandate will be lifted, although Adams has been suggesting in recent weeks that many vaccine requirements will be removed. The city’s press office didn’t respond to a request for comment, nor did the Nets.
“Within the next few weeks you’re going to see many of these mandates dissipate,” Adams said last week. Earlier this month, Adams had called the rule that bars Irving from playing in home games “unfair,” given that unvaccinated athletes from opposing teams can play at both Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden, the home of the Knicks.
Irving has played in only 15 of the Nets’ 61 games, in part because of his refusal to be vaccinated, and will not be able to play Monday night’s game home against Toronto. Irving’s inconsistent availability and injuries to other players are among factors that have contributed to the Nets’ descent from one of the best teams in the N.B.A. to one now fighting just to make the playoffs. The Nets (32-29) are the Eastern Conference’s eighth seed with roughly a quarter of the season left. To avoid the league’s play-in tournament for the postseason, the Nets would need to finish as the sixth seed or better.
“I’m following it as much as you guys are,” Irving told reporters after the Nets’ victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday. “So just remaining patient and just seeing where things end up in this next week or so or next two weeks, I’m not too sure.”