Throughout this NBA season’s saga regarding Kyrie Irving’s inability to play home games due to New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, the Brooklyn Nets have remained optimistic that their star player would eventually be able to take the floor at Barclays Center. That day has arrived, as Irving will once again be allowed to play in New York City, according to multiple reports.
On Thursday, New York City will reportedly change its private sector COVID-19 vaccine mandate to allow an exemption for performers and athletes in the workplace. The amendment to the policy means that Irving will now be permitted to take the floor in Brooklyn’s next home game, on Sunday against the Charlotte Hornets, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
Here’s more from Politico on the expected changes:
On Thursday the mayor is expected to declare his decision to reverse the private-sector vaccine mandate specifically for performers and athletes in local venues, including Barclays Center — home to the Brooklyn Nets — and both Citi Field in Queens and Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.
The complex nature of the vaccine mandate that prevented Irving from playing in New York City was magnified last week, when Irving attended a Nets home game as a spectator — which was permitted under the policy. Teammate Kevin Durant and many others publicly questioned the validity of a mandate that allowed Irving to be in the building as a fan, but not to play on the court just a few feet from where he was sitting.
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The Nets will certainly welcome back Irving with open arms as they attempt to gather momentum heading into the postseason. In 19 games this season, Irving has put up 27.7 points, 5.8 assists and 4.7 rebounds on 49/43/90 shooting splits, and he recently scored a career-high 60 points against the Orlando Magic.
Paired with Durant, a fully available Irving makes Brooklyn a formidable playoff opponent, and should catapult them back into the discussion as potential NBA champions — particularly if Ben Simmons is able to return to the floor and return to his previous form.