Brooklyn Nets fans will be seeing a lot more of Kyrie Irving. On Thursday, New York City mayor Eric Adams announced that New York-based performers and athletes who play for New York home teams will be exempt from the city's vaccination mandate for private business, per CBS Sports. This means that Irving will be eligible to play in home games, starting on Sunday when the Nets take on the Charlotte Hornets.
"This is about putting New York city-based performers on a level playing field," Adams said. "Day 1 when I was mayor, I looked at the rule that stated hometown players had an unfair disadvantage for those who were coming to visit. And immediately I felt we needed to look at that, but my medical professionals said, 'Eric, we're at a different place. We have to wait until we're at a place where we're at a low area and we can reexamine some of the mandates.' We're here today."
Before the announcement, Irving was playing in the Nets' road games. But when the 2021-22 season began, Irving was not playing in any games and he didn't get the vaccine. "I am going to just continue to stay in shape, be ready to play, be ready to rock out with my teammates and just be part of this whole thing," Irving said in an Instagram feed in October. "This is not a political thing; this is not about the NBA, not about any organization. This is about my life and what I am choosing to do."
The Nets could use more Irving as the team is looking to make a big push to the playoffs towards the end of the season. As of this writing, the Nets are in eighth place in the Eastern Conference and need to be in sixth place to avoid the play-in tournament. In 20 games, Irving has averaged 28.5 points and 5.5 assists per contest.
"The NBA and NBPA have achieved a 97% vaccination and 75% booster rate among players, required both for league staff, team staff, and referees, and will continue to be strong advocates for vaccination and boosters," the NBA and NBA Players Association said in a statement. "With today's announcement, we support the Mayor's determination that the old rules treating hometown and visiting players differently no longer made sense, particularly because unvaccinated NBA players will continue to test daily. We applaud the Mayor for listening to the concerns of our New York teams, players, fans and communities and for leveling the playing field for home teams and their opponents."