Monday, January 17, 2022

Kyrie Irving could play at Barclays Center on one condition: report

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For those who may be late to the party, Brooklyn Nets All-Star Kyrie Irving has missed the team’s first 35 games of the season by refusing to receive the coronavirus vaccine. Per New York City health and safety protocols, participants wishing to participate in indoor sports must be vaccinated to do so. Despite missing out on Kyrie, the Nets have held first place in Eastern Conference playoff scoring for most of the season. Kyrie rejoined the team earlier this month but remains unvaccinated. This means he remains ineligible to play Nets home games at the Barclays Center. This could become a big problem if the Nets All-Star is only eligible to play part-time in a playoff series.

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The best thing for the Nets and Kyrie is that he’s getting vaccinated. But Irving has shown a commitment not to get the shot. Nets owner Joe Tsai has invested heavily in this team and the best possible return on his investment would be a title win. That won’t happen unless Kyrie is fully available. Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News describes the gap that can turn Irving into a full-time player.

“In the theoretical world that occupies this column space, the nets break this rule. They play Irving in Brooklyn next week with the league’s blessing, or maybe wait until the postseason and pay fines equal to fluff in Joe Tsai’s lacrosse bag. Let me introduce the penalties for non-compliance with The Key to NYC as outlined in Bill de Blasio’s Executive Order:

First offense: warning.

Second offense: $1,000 fine.

Third offense: $2,000 fine.

Fourth Violation: $5,000 fine.

Fifth infinity violation: $5,000 fine”

While it’s an interesting loophole, Bondy says it wouldn’t be the best choice for the Nets as an organization. He also adds that this shouldn’t even be considered and the simplest solution is for Irving to get vaccinated.

“The optics of not following a vaccination mandate simply because of the enormous wealth and basketball is frightening. It’s not something the Nets want to explore. Neither should they,” Bondy continues.

“Irving should be vaccinated. He should have been vaccinated months ago, if not sooner, because science is clear on his safety. Last but not least, Irving can send a positive message of personal responsibility for the health of the community. He’s the most high-profile holdout in the NBA and, like it or not, a symbol of anti-vaccination heroism. And since Irving has not explained his stance coherently, the message is left up to interpretation. To me, it’s just defiance for defiance’s sake. Irving is a well-known maverick who tells the world, “Nobody can tell me what to do.”

Irving remains a part-time player for now, but in the interest of the Nets and their title hopes, he should do everything in his power to be available full-time. Championship windows often don’t stay open long, and the Nets have a legitimate shot at delivering the franchise’s first title. It will be interesting to see how the organization develops as the season progresses.

CONTINUE READING: Ex-Finals MVP: Nets Kyrie Irving is the “strongest” point guard in NBA history

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