NBA Fines Brooklyn Nets $50,000 for Letting Kyrie Irving in Locker Room Against Health Protocols

Kyrie Irving is unable to play home games for the Brooklyn Nets due to New York City's COVID vaccine mandate for employees

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The NBA has fined the Brooklyn Nets $50,000 for allowing Kyrie Irving into the team's locker room during Sunday's game.

The league announced the penalty Monday, as the move violated local laws as well as the NBA's health and safety protocols. Irving — who has been vocal about his decision to remain unvaccinated against COVID-19 — is not allowed to participate in the team's home games at the Barclays Center in New York City due to the local workplace vaccine mandate.

Though the 29-year-old athlete didn't play in Sunday's game against the New York Knicks, he purchased courtside seats and watched as a spectator. Irving's attendance in the venue was possible as the city recently lifted its vaccine mandate for indoor activities.

However, Irving reportedly went into the Nets' locker room during halftime, which is considered a workplace environment, leading to the team's fine, per ESPN.

Representatives for the Brooklyn Nets did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

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Nets star Kevin Durant criticized New York City Mayor Eric Adams after Sunday's game, summing up the situation as "ridiculous" that his teammate can watch the game as a spectator, but can't play due to his vaccination status.

"I don't get it. It just feels like at this point now, it feels like somebody's trying to make a statement or a point to flex their authority," Durant, 33, said during a post-game press conference. "But everybody out here is looking for attention, and that's what I feel the mayor wants right now, some attention. But he'll figure it out soon. He better."

"But it just didn't make any sense. Like, there's unvaxxed people in this building already," he continued. "We got a guy who can come into the building — I guess, are they fearing [for] our safety? Like, I don't get it. Yeah, we're all confused. Pretty much everybody in the world is confused at this point. Early on in the season, people didn't understand what was going on, but now it just looks stupid. So hopefully, Eric, you've got to figure this out."

The small forward later released a statement Monday seemingly walking back his previous remark and commending Adams' efforts surrounding the pandemic.

"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," the statement read, per ESPN'S Malika Andrews.

"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."

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During a recent public appearance, Adams addressed a heckler who shouted for the mayor to "let Kyrie play."

"Listen, you're right. Kyrie can play tomorrow. Get vaccinated," the 61-year-old politician said.

Earlier this month, when New York City lifted its vaccine requirements for indoor activities, Adams said Irving's current ineligibility to play with the Nets was a "bigger issue" of health and safety.

"Listen, I want Kyrie on the court. I would do anything to get that ring," Adams, who was elected in November 2021, told CNBC. "So badly, I want it. But there's so much at stake here. And I spoke with the owner of the team. We want to find a way to get Kyrie on the court, but this is a bigger issue."

"I can't have my city closed down again," he stressed. "It would send the wrong message just to have an exception for one player when we're telling countless number of New York City employees, 'If you don't follow the rules, you won't be able to be employed.' "

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