The NBA fined the Nets $ 50,000 for allowing guard Kyrie Irving to enter the team’s locker room during Sunday’s game against the Knicks even though Irving had not been vaccinated against the coronavirus and was therefore not allowed to join the team. Barclays Center.
Irving attended the game as a spectator, with a seat in the front row.
Under New York City law, Irving cannot play games at the Barclays Center because of a vaccination mandate for New York City -based workers who do personal work. While Mayor Eric Adams removed some vaccine requirements this month, he left the mandate to the private sector. Under NBA health and safety protocols, teams are obligated to follow local rules.
The Nets declined to comment.
During a public appearance on Sunday, Adams replied a crook urging him to play Irving: “Listen, you’re right. Kyrie can play tomorrow: Vaccination. ”
Nets forward Kevin Durant called the rule “ridiculous” after the game against the Knicks on Sunday. He also criticized the mayor by name.
“It seems, at this point right now, someone is trying to make a statement or point to flex their authority,” Durant told reporters. “Everyone here is looking for attention. That’s what I feel the mayor wants now: an attention. ”
Minutes after the NBA announced the Nets penalty on Monday, Durant issued a statement through the Nets and softened his stance to Adams.
“The last two years have been a difficult and painful time for New Yorkers, as well as a confusing time to change the landscape of rules and regulations,” Durant’s statement read. “I am grateful for the role the mayor has before him in all that the town has gone through. My frustration with the situation has not changed the fact that I have always been committed to helping the communities and cities I live and play for.”
Irving’s vaccination situation has upset the Nets throughout the season. He has only played 18 of the team’s 68 games, in part because the mandate prohibits him from playing home games, and because he refuses to be vaccinated. Irving was allowed to play street games where towns had no vaccination orders. Only Toronto, where the Raptors will play, has banned unvaccinated guest players from competing.
Irving’s limited presence contributed to the Nets ’free fall from one of the best teams in the NBA into a fight just to get into the playoffs with 14 games remaining. The Nets (35-33) currently sit eighth in the Eastern Conference standings, one game ahead of Atlanta (34-34); only the top eight teams can qualify for the postseason. Unless Adams changes his mind, Irving could only qualify for four of the team’s remaining games.
The decline in positive tests across the country and the removal of other mandates has raised optimism within the Nets organization that Irving’s return as a full-time player is imminent. While Irving’s limitations under the mandate have received outsized attention because of his celebrity, the rule applies to New York City employees at more than 180,000 businesses, as well as other local sports teams like the Knicks.
Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner, told ESPN last month that he feels the rule banning Irving from playing at home is “less reasonable” because opposing players who are not vaccinated are allowed to play in areas. in New York City. Later that day, Adams agreed with Silver, saying the rule was “unfair,” but also that removing the mandate “would send mixed messages.”
The NBA pushed for its own vaccination mandate for players before the season, but the players ’union refused to approve one.
Irving’s attendance at Sunday’s national television game against the Knicks created a spectacle. Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, the NBA’s biggest star, weighed in on Twitter during the game, write that the law “Literally makes absolutely ZERO SENSE !!!”
He added: “They say if common sense is common then we all have it. Isn’t that the truth. #Kyrie is free.”