“Kyrie Is…Going To Do Kyrie “| As Loosening Of NYC Protocols Looms, NBA Analyst Chiney Ogwumike Reflects On Young Kyrie Irving

(Photo: Getty Images/Instagram @chiney)

Chiney Ogwumike, co-host of “NBA Today” weekdays with Malika Andrews, Vince Carter, Perk, RJ and Zach Lowe, joined ESPN’s “First Take” on Thursday and gave some personal insight concerning Kyrie Irving’s thought process as NYC COVID mandates loosen and loose discussion of a potential full-time return to the court increases. 

“This is a really complicated…when I think about this circumstance and we hear about what the commissioner Adam Silver said, it is strange from where we are right now,” noted Ogwumike. 

NBA commissioner Adam Silver questioned the logic of NYC’s vaccination rule that’s keeping Irving from playing at home. Some perceive the protocols as inconsistent, with unvaccinated entertainers being allowed to perform and out of town NBA players not having to be vaccinated to play. These issues have come to a head. 

Kyrie Irving Speaks Via Zoom At Nets Media Day | Won’t Address His Vaccination Status Or How He’ll Approach NYC COVID Mandates

“This law in New York, the oddity of it to me, is that it only applies to home players,” Silver said on ESPN’s “Get Up.”

Ogwumike, a longtime associate of Kyrie Irving, was asked if her perception or opinion of Kyrie Irving changed in light of everything that has gone on and continues to go on with his approach to the vaccination mandates and his status. 

For those who think Kyrie’s celebrity or exorbitant contract and championship success has “created a monster” to some degree, Ogwumike offered some insight into the mercurial social maverick. 

“No, my opinion of Kyrie has not changed. I’ve been fortunate to have known him ever since we were about 17 years old and we both played at the McDonald’s All-American Game together. … Sometimes he’d hang with the group and sometimes he’d be by himself playing video games and sometimes he’d be reading a book. Kyrie is different, and one thing about Kyrie is he’s not going to change.”

Kyries authenticity and unpredictability may not work for James Harden, but Chiney says of those same personality traits, “His teammates like Kevin Durant, they appreciate those things.” 

“Kyrie is Kyrie, and he’s going to do Kyrie,” Chiney insisted. “We’re at this return to normalcy. We’re at the point where people are trying to roll back protocols and the reality is that (Kyrie’s) unavailable to play at this time and it doesn’t even make sense to Adam Silver.” 

Following a press conference about the city’s 2023 budget, New York Mayor Eric Adams told reporters: 

“First of all, I think the rule’s unfair. I believe that we are saying to out-of-town athletes that they can come in and not be vaccinated, yet New York athletes do have to be vaccinated,” Adams said at City Hall in response to a reporter’s question about Silver’s comments.
“I think it’s unfair,” the mayor said.

This opened up a brief optimism for Nets fans who want to see the unvaccinated Irving on the court at all costs. The new mayor, however, just as quickly shot down any hope of reversing former Mayor Bill de Blasio’s mandates. 

For Adams, it’s all about optics. 

“I am really, really leery about sending the wrong message. Having this city close down again keeps me up at night, and the message was put in place, the rule was put in place, to start changing it now I think it would send mixed messages,” he said.
“I’m struggling with this, just to be honest with you,” said the mayor, who laughed when specifically asked if he would amend the mandate. 

According to the New York Post, “Under New York City’s “Key to NYC” program — announced last summer by former Mayor Bill de Blasio and maintained by Adams — proof of COVID-19 vaccination is required to enter most kinds of indoor settings, including restaurants, bars, movie theaters and sports venues.

To comply with the regulation, Irving — a 29-year-old seven-time NBA All-Star who has not received a COVID-19 vaccine — doesn’t play in his team’s home games, held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The Nets beginning in December began allowing Irving to play in Nets road games, after initially prohibiting him from acting as a part-time player.” 

It’s very hard to predict Kyrie’s moves, as he chooses to express his thoughts very cryptically and mysteriously.

‘Be Still And Know…’| Optimism Is Waning Concerning Kyrie Irving’s Vaccination Status, But Union Balks At Docking Pay

What we do know, according to Ogwumike, is that “Kyrie is gonna do Kyrie.” The hope among BK Nets fans is that he’s refused to be vaccinated long enough that he might have outlasted the lifetime of the protocols. Maybe there’s an ever-slim chance that things might sway in his favor. Especially if the Nets are proving to be serious contenders as the NBA playoffs kickoff. It’s really all up to the lawmakers in the city of New York. 


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JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.