For just the second time this season — and 16th time since they joined forces — the Brooklyn Nets played a game with their big three of Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving. They blew out the East-leading Chicago Bulls 138-112 Tuesday night.
Once again reminding the rest of the NBA when all three players take the floor, they are going to be really difficult to beat.
Of course, the Nets’ big three are not able to string together any consistency due to Irving’s vaccination status and the NYC vaccine mandates for performers. But there might be an answer to this problem if Nets governor Joe Tsai is willing to spend a little money.
According to NYC Executive Order 225, the Nets could just pay the fines set out in the order. The fines add up with each offense beginning with a warning, then $1,000 fine, with $5,000 being the limit for every offense after the fourth violation.
The Nets have 20 home games remaining in the regular season, if they wanted Kyrie to suit up for all remaining home games Tsai would cut a check for a mere $88,000. A lot of money to everyday folks, but Tsai’s net worth is roughly $8.8 billion.
That check is light work, and he wouldn’t notice it missing.
Of course there is the public relations backlash and public health issue Tsai and the Nets organization would face. Tsai is very pro-vaccination and boosters and not only believes it’s the right thing to do individually, but also for the greater good.
“I’m a total believer in having that in the fact that vaccine actually protects you from getting sick, getting real sick. Now the other thing is, I also believe that taking the vaccine is also a social good. It’s just part of social responsibility, because you’re not only protecting yourself, but you’re protecting other people,” Tsai told the New York Post. “That’s my personal view, so that’s why we’re supporting vaccinations at Barclays Center. We advocate for getting vaccinated, because it truly will save lives, and it will truly protect other people. Don’t underestimate the social responsibility part of it. It’s not just about yourself, it’s about protecting the people around you. So that’s kind of my view of the vaccine.”
Tsai hasn’t wavered publicly on this stance. But if he pays the fines to have his star unvaccinated player ignore the NYC mandate, what does that say about the commitment to social good?
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that capitalism will stop for nothing. The leaders of the major sports leagues around the world almost in unison chose continuing profits over full scale shutdowns and vaccine mandates.
Tsai and the Nets want to win, and their chances of being the last team standing in June are greatly increased with Irving present.
Reports are that there is currently no appetite internally for the Nets to make the decision of paying fines. But once the league passes the mid-February All-Star break and we get to March, the playoffs will be in sight. The appetite to get the team some momentum and continuity heading into the playoffs could change.
The easy solve to this whole scenario is for Irving to get vaccinated and be a full-time player.
Irving’s teammates have spouted the company line all along that it’s his choice. But their messaging is changing ever so slightly. In the past they would dismiss any questions, again citing personal choice. They’re at least talking about it now, even if in a joking manner.
At the end of his postgame media availability after the win over the Bulls, Harden joked:
“I’m going to give him the shot!”
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