NYC Mayor Eric Adams Eases Closer To Phasing Out Vaccine Mandate | How Soon Can Kyrie Irving Play Home Games?

New York City Mayor Eric Adams is phasing out COVID-19 restrictions, possibly clearing the way for Kyrie Irving to join the Brooklyn Nets full-time. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images)

According to reports, NYC indoor COVID-19 mask and vaccine mandates will be phased out in the coming weeks. Mayor Eric Adams addressed the media in Brooklyn on Wednesday and said NYC will follow other cities that have begun to roll back their requirements. This will impact Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving who is currently ineligible to play home games because of the vaccine mandates. But that’s all about to change, and so might the Nets’ title chances.

“Every morning I meet with my health professionals ’cause I’ve always stated I’m going to follow the science,” Adams said this week.  “I’m not going to get ahead of the science, because I’m ready to get ahead of all of this and get back to a level of normalcy. But they’re giving us clear structures. They gave us benchmarks. We’re going to follow those benchmarks, but I look forward in the next few weeks of going through a real transformation that I don’t have to wonder what you look like.”

The Brooklyn Nets are 31-28 and currently eighth in the Eastern Conference. Since Irving rejoined the team on a part-time basis they have an 8-16 record, including an 11-game losing streak. Kevin Durant was injured during that stretch and hasn’t played since Jan. 16.

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They also traded James Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and two draft picks. Earlier this week they signed Goran Dragic off the buyout market. That’s a lot of upheaval for a team that wants to win a championship.

The betting favorites for most of the season, the Nets have dropped to a tie for third with the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks at +600. FiveThirtyEight gives the Nets just a 3 percent chance to make the NBA Finals.

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The regular season ends on April 10. The Nets have 23 games between now and then to develop some kind of cohesion and chemistry. It’s not a ton of time, but Irving is excited at the prospect of being full-time again according to head coach Steve Nash.

“I will say that he’s been extremely locked in,” Nash said after Wednesday’s practice. “Kyrie’s been great on the practice floor. He’s been great in film sessions. He’s been creating dialogue over aspects of our play. So I sense a real focus and urgency from him. And so if that’s any indication, I would say he is getting excited at the prospect of being allowed to play in all our games and hopefully in the short term.”

Mayor Adams didn’t give a firm timeline but said in the next “few weeks” there will be a transformation. That could mean Irving is on the floor for home games as early as mid-March.

“I think he’s working towards being able to play in every game,” Nash said. “So if the mandate is lifted, the expectation would be that he can play in all our games. I think that’s what he’s been waiting for and what he’s excited about, and if the opportunity arises, the plan and the goal is to play every night.”

While this could have been a non-issue if Irving decided to take the vaccine to start the season, it is a sense of relief for the Nets and his teammates that they won’t have to answer questions about it any longer.

A healthy Durant, Irving, and Simmons is a scary sight come playoffs.


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