NBA commissioner Adam Silver appeared on ESPN’s “Get Up” on Wednesday and discussed the NYC COVID vaccine mandate, as it notably impacts the Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving due to the latter’s unwillingness to take the vaccine. Silver sees an oddity in the logic of only applying the mandate rule to players on NYC teams but not visiting ones.
“It just doesn’t quite make sense to me that an away player who’s unvaccinated can play in Barclays, but the home player can’t.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver weighs in on the New York vaccine requirements, which have kept Kyrie Irving out of home games.
“It just doesn’t quite make sense to me that an away player who’s unvaccinated can play in Barclays, but the home player can’t." pic.twitter.com/epMYGZhYdz
— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) February 16, 2022
Silver is right in that it is odd that the rules only apply to players on the home teams in NYC.
Regardless of whether it’s a member of the Nets or New York Knicks or any of the other 28 franchises, an unvaccinated player in that setting poses a potential risk. If the reason for the mandate is the health and safety of everyone inside the arenas, home or road affiliation is irrelevant.
It’s curious that Silver is talking about it now and in that public a forum. Host Mike Greenberg did ask, but Silver is an expert at talking to the media and could have simply answered with a “that’s the law” and moved on.
The cynic in me thinks there might be an ulterior motive.
The All-Star break is upon us and the NBA will take a break for a week. When play resumes most teams will have 22-25 games remaining, and then it’s the playoffs.
Irving has made it clear he has no intention of getting the current available vaccines, and as such he can’t play in any home games. Missing them in the regular season is one thing. But the pressure and media scrutiny that the playoffs bring is something else.
People have speculated that the city would lift its vaccine mandate as early as March, but there doesn’t seem to be any signs of that happening. New York state lifted some mandates, but the city and new Mayor Eric Adams have been clear that the vaccine mandates will remain.
1,430 city workers lost their jobs on Monday for failure to adhere to the city’s vaccine mandates.
Perhaps Silver speaking out now was an attempt to put some kind of pressure on the city through a sort of public appeal to common sense.
If Silver really thinks the mandate isn’t logical why not just let the Brooklyn Nets pay the fines every time Irving plays a home game.
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.
Silver technically can’t allow the Nets to pay the fines, as a memo was sent to all teams at the beginning of the season outlining the policies and procedures.
To be clear on the hypothetical ability for a team to pay a fine for an unvaccinated player to play in a marketplace that local ordinances forbid: NBA memo to organizations on September 1 says that teams must follow local laws and players who don't comply won't be able to play.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 13, 2022
That seems like a gray area. The NBA isn’t a lawmaking entity. If the Nets choose to let Irving play and pay the fines what would their “punishment” be? The loss of a second round draft pick?
No, the Nets shouldn’t willfully circumvent the rules despite the NYC mandate not making a lot of sense. The public relations backlash would be a nightmare, not to mention it flies in the face of public safety during a pandemic.
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