Kyrie Irving Can Play at Nets' Home Games as N.Y.C. Mayor Lifts Vaccine Mandate for Athletes

The policy change will allow unvaccinated athletes to return to playing sports in New York City

2021 NBA All Star Players
Kyrie Irving. Photo: NBAE/Getty

Kyrie Irving will no longer be blocked from playing in the Brooklyn Nets' home games by New York City after Mayor Eric Adams announced a policy change, Thursday.

Adams lifted the private sector coronavirus vaccine mandate for performers and athletes in the city during a press conference at Citi Field, allowing unvaccinated athletes to return to playing sports in N.Y.C.

Irving, 30, has been vocal about his decision to remain unvaccinated against COVID-19, and due to the local workplace vaccine mandate had not been not allowed to participate in the team's games in New York City, both at the Net's home, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan.

The Athletic's Shams Charania said Irving could be on the court in Brooklyn as soon as Sunday, playing in the Nets' next home game against the Charlotte Hornets.

Earlier this month, the NBA fined the Brooklyn Nets $50,000 for allowing Irving into the team's locker room during a game on March 13. The league announced the penalty the next day, as the move violated the then-active local laws as well as the NBA's health and safety protocols.


The move by Adams, 61, Thursday comes after he previously stated no exceptions would be made for Irving.

"I can't have my city closed down again," Adams said during an appearance on CNBC's Squawk on the Street in February. "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.' "

He added: "Businesses have their vaccine mandate. City employees have their vaccine mandates. I have to follow the rules. And trust me, I want Kyrie on the court. We are here right now opening our city because of vaccine mandates. We can't close down again."

Irving has already missed a majority of games this season due to being unvaccinated. In December 2021, the Nets decided they would bring Irving back to the team on a part-time basis, allowing him to play in road games that did not fall under New York City's mandate.

At the time, Irving opened up about being unable to play.

"I understood their decision [to sideline me] and I respected it," Irving said, according to New York Post reporter Brian Lewis. "I really had to sit back and try not to become too emotionally attached to what they were deciding to do. I had to sit down and really evaluate things and see it from their perspective."

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