Kyrie Irving still might not be able to play, even if NYC lifts vaccine mandate

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving. (Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports)
Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving. (Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports) /

Brooklyn Nets fans are hopeful NYC soon lifting its vaccine mandate will allow Kyrie Irving to play home games again, but it might not be that simple.

Kyrie Irving has played just 14 games for the Brooklyn Nets this season, all of them coming on the road since the start of the new year because of his refusal to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

While he has suited up on the road, New York City’s vaccine mandate has kept Irving off the court at Barclays Center.

So when NYC mayor Eric Adams told reporters on Thursday that the city planned to phase out the vaccine mandate, the questions over Irving’s status immediately began.

Will Kyrie Irving be able to play once NYC lifts vaccine mandate?

The problem for Irving is, first, the mandate hasn’t been lifted officially and, second, his absence from home games might not be dictated by the “Key to NYC” program ending.

Chris Sommerfeldt of The NY Daily News pumped the brakes on Irving getting back once the mandate is lifted:

"Adams’ remarks triggered speculation on social media that unvaccinated Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving will be able to play home games at Barclays Center again after being barred from doing so because gyms and fitness centers are covered by the “Key to NYC” program.But even if “Key to NYC” is lifted, Irving may not be able to play at Barclays because of the city’s private employer mandate, which requires vaccinations for all employees of Big Apple-based private companies, including the Brooklyn Nets."

It’s clearly not going to be cut and dry, but users on Twitter did point out that there is an exemption for non-NYC residents who are professional athletes.

For now, Irving will continue to have to wait to become a full participant in the Nets season.

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