New York’s mayor’s plan to lift vaccine mandate will not let Kyrie Irving play home games, yet

Brooklyn Nets v Milwaukee Bucks
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There is good news on the COVID and vaccine mandate front in New York: The numbers have dropped enough that Mayor Eric Adams says he plans to drop the city’s public sector vaccine mandates on March 7.

That’s good news for New Yorkers — cases and hospitalizations have fallen and life can inch toward the new normal — however, it does not help Kyrie Irving play home games for the Brooklyn Nets.

Irving is covered by a second vaccine mandate for private employers, which does not allow employers to allow unvaccinated employees (Irving) to the workplace (Barclay’s). In his statement saying the public-sector mandate was going away, Adams said “all other vaccine mandates in New York City will remain in place at this time.”

Speaking on CNBC on Monday, Adams said he would not make an exception to the rule for Irving.

“Listen, I want Kyrie on the court. I would do anything to get that ring. So badly, I want it. But there’s so much at stake here. And I spoke with the owner of the team. We want to find a way to get Kyrie on the court, but this is a bigger issue. I can’t have my city closed down again. It would send the wrong message just to have an exception for one player when we’re telling countless number of New York City employees, ‘If you don’t follow the rules, you won’t be able to be employed.'”

Those other vaccine mandates are expected to be lifted at a later date, and there is an “inevitable” sense Irving will be able to play home games for the Nets before the playoffs, wrote Adrian Wojnarowski at ESPN.

A whole Brooklyn Nets team is potentially scary. Right now, Kevin Durant is expected to return from a sprained knee later this week, Ben Simmons is still weeks away from a return, and Irving is a part-time player, only in road games due to the vaccine mandate. All three of those situations could change by the end of the month, but it may be too late for the Nets to avoid the play-in games (they are currently the No. 8 seed, three games out of No. 6 and safety) and a rough road through the playoffs. Still, healthy they are a threat to come out of the East.