DETROIT — Mayor-elect Eric Adams said Friday night that New York City will not change its COVID-19 vaccination mandate that currently prevents Kyrie Irving from playing in games there.
Adams, who won the city’s mayoral election Tuesday, put the onus on the NBA and Irving to find a resolution. The current mandate requires the Brooklyn Nets point guard to get at least one vaccination shot in order to play in home games at Barclays Center and road games at Madison Square Garden, home of the New York Knicks.
“New York City is not going to change their rule,” Adams said in an interview on CNN. “And again, 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 is going to come to a conclusion on this.”
Adams did not elaborate on how the NBA and Irving can find a way for the point guard to play in New York City if he remains unvaccinated since the league is abiding by the city’s COVID-19 protocol.
The Nets played their ninth game of the season without Irving on Friday in Detroit. While he can play in road games in NBA cities that do not have a vaccine mandate, the Nets decided as an organization not to have their starting point guard be with the team as a part-time player until he gets vaccinated or the city’s mandate changes.
Nets owner Joe Tsai recently told ESPN that he is unsure when Irving will rejoin the team due to the mandate.
“I don’t know,” Tsai said in a sit-down interview with ESPN when asked when he thinks Irving will play again. “Either he has to be vaccinated in order to come back if the New York mandate is still in place. And don’t ask me when they may or may not change the New York mandate. Again, if you ask the people that are making decisions at the city level, they are going to say we are going to rely on science, rely on what the health department tells us [in order to proceed].”
“I hope that Kyrie can be part of the team, part of Brooklyn long term. … I think we have an immediate question of whether he can play this season, and I hope he gets vaccinated as soon as possible.”
Adams, who will take office on Jan. 1, was asked about protocols for municipal workers while on CNBC on Wednesday and said the city needs “to revisit how we are going to address the vaccine mandates.” That comment created some optimism that perhaps the mandate could change after Jan. 1, allowing Irving to play even if he remains unvaccinated.
Nets coach Steve Nash was asked if the team would welcome back Irving back if the mandate changes and he is still unvaccinated.
“I might be speaking out of turn,” Nash said Wednesday. “But I think if the mandate changes, he’d be welcomed back for sure.”
Adams said “it is up to Kyrie” to determine whether to get vaccinated.
“That is his determination,” Adams said. “I don’t want to dictate for him, it’s his body, he has to make that determination on what he wants to do.
“I’m a Nets fan … and I love Kyrie. I think he’s a piece that we need for a championship… So I believe that it’s up to the NBA and Kyrie to come to an understanding on how they want to get through this and I believe they can come to a resolution.”