NBA

New York City mayor-elect says Irving vaccination dispute up to NBA to resolve

By Sports Desk November 05, 2021

New York's newly elected mayor has no plans to change the city's coronavirus vaccination mandate, saying it is up to the NBA and Kyrie Irving to find a solution that will get the Brooklyn Nets star back on the court. 

The 29-year-old remains unvaccinated and is therefore ineligible to play home games at Barclays Center or games at the New York Knicks' Madison Square Garden.

Under current city restrictions, people in New York must have at least one coronavirus vaccine to enter indoor arenas, and mayor-elect Eric Adams told CNN on Friday the policy will remain in place when he takes office January 1.

"New York City is not going to change their rule," Adams said. "It is up to the NBA and Kyrie to come to a full understanding on how to keep him on the Nets and to continue to look at all of our athletes that are coming here. Again, I think the NBA and Kyrie [are] going to come to a conclusion on this."

Asked about Adams' remarks after the Nets' 96-90 road win against the Detroit Pistons on Friday, Brooklyn head coach Steve Nash said he was not surprised. 

"I didn't expect the mayor to change the mandate," Nash told reporters. "We've just got to focus on our team. If we could have Kyrie back, we'd all be ecstatic, but we focus on our team, we keep building, we keep growing and hopefully we'll be a really good team at the end of the year." 

After a sluggish start to the season, the Nets have won four in a row and sit at 6-3 following Friday's victory. 

Irving would be eligible to play in most road games but the Nets said three weeks ago that Irving would not be with the team in any capacity until he can be a full participant. 

The seven-time All-Star has played just 74 regular season games in two years since joining the Nets, missing long stretches due to injury issues and personal reasons.

 

Last year, on the same team as high-profile team-mates Kevin Durant and James Harden, Irving scored 26.9 points per game. That dropped to 22.7 points in the playoffs as he was again restricted.

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    Nick Kyrgios threw in an underarm serve in the second game of his Australian Open campaign, before tossing in a curveball in the post-match news conference.

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    Australian Kyrgios has dramatically changed his tune on the Serbian, but not in the way many have altered their perspective following recent events.

    Djokovic was deported from Australia in the hours before the Australian Open got under way, a consequence of his own failure to get a COVID-19 vaccine and seemingly mixed messages from authorities before a court settled the kerfuffle.

    His behaviour in December after a positive COVID-19 test has been widely criticised, and the reputation of arguably the greatest tennis player of all time has taken a battering in the past fortnight.

    Kyrgios recently observed the treatment of Djokovic, a nine-time champion of the Melbourne Park grand slam, had been "really bad" and said it was important to "do better" by the 20-time slam winner.

     

    The 26-year-old from Canberra has emerged as an unlikely cheerleader for the player he described as "a tool" and "a very strange cat" last February, after Djokovic was reported to have requested improved quarantine accommodation on arriving in Australia.

    Now Kyrgios is revelling in his apparent sudden popularity in Serbia, where Djokovic's banishment from Australia was greeted with anger and dismay.

    "I mean, it's great," Kyrgios said of his new standing. He then turned his focus to why he has stood up for his new friend.

    "Obviously me and Novak have had some, I guess, differences in the past. But whether it was Novak or someone else, I would have done the same thing," he said.

    "I didn't do it because he was Serbian. If it was another player in that scenario, I would have stood up for what I think was right.

    "I think it was just coincidentally it was Novak, and, you know, it was quite a story. But we've got a bit of a bromance going on now, so I'm not going to complain.

    "I think I'm going to ask him to play doubles somewhere."

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  • 'Our margin for error is not great' – Donovan accepts Bulls need to improve after losing run goes on 'Our margin for error is not great' – Donovan accepts Bulls need to improve after losing run goes on

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  • Irving will not change vaccine stance despite Durant layoff: I'm standing rooted in what I believe in Irving will not change vaccine stance despite Durant layoff: I'm standing rooted in what I believe in

    Kyrie Irving does not feel compelled to change his stance regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, despite the Brooklyn Nets potentially being without Kevin Durant for six weeks.

    The seven-time NBA All-Star has refused to be vaccinated against coronavirus and is therefore banned from playing in home games due to New York's vaccine mandate.

    Irving was left off the Nets' initial roster for the 2021-22 season, but that decision was reversed last month when the 29-year-old was included as a part-time player.

    He has been restricted to four road games so far and has averaged 20 points, which is down on his career average of 22.8.

    The Nets could do with Irving more than ever after losing Durant to a knee injury that will keep him out for at least a month, but the point guard is staying rooted to his decision.

    "That's what I think comes into a lot of this culture and basketball and sport and entertainment," he said. "You bring in teams and you bring in situations. 

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    Irving was speaking after leading Brooklyn with 27 points in their 114-107 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday – his best tally since returning to action this month.

    The Nets are once again denied the chance to partner star trio James Harden, Durant and Irving, but head coach Steve Nash is hopeful others can step up.

    "It's a great opportunity for guys and our team to grow," he said. "We can't rely on Kevin in ways we could, and we have to find ways and solutions to be competitive without him."

    The Nets' 'Big Three' have played only 16 games together, going 13-3 across that period.

    "It's a great challenge for us," Nash added. "I don't spend time dwelling on it. It wouldn't do us any good. It wouldn't do me any good. 

    "It wouldn't do the team any good if the leader of the team is sitting at home contemplating how many games they haven't played.

    "That would take me away from being excited and positive to come in every day and try to affect the group positively for these guys to feel empowered and to grow."

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