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Nets' Kyrie Irving fined $50,000 for COVID protocol violation

Kyrie Irving of the Nets reacts on the

Kyrie Irving of the Nets reacts on the sidelines during the fourth quarter against the Jazz at Barclays Center on Jan. 5. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Nets guard Kyrie Irving has been fined $50,000 for violating NBA health and safety protocols, the league announced on Friday, and he also must forfeit salary for two games he missed during a five-day quarantine period.

If he continues to test negative, Irving is eligible to return on Saturday when newly acquired superstar James Harden is expected to make his Nets debut against the Magic at Barclays Center. However, the Nets ruled Irving out, citing health and safety protocols, because he hasn’t played since Jan. 5 and needs time to prepare physically.

According to a statement from Byron Spruell, president of NBA league operations, the fine and quarantine period stemmed from an incident in which Irving attended a private indoor party last weekend. NBA protocols prohibit attending indoor social gatherings of 15 or more people or entering bars, lounges, clubs or similar establishments. Video surfaced of Irving not wearing a face mask at a family birthday celebration for his sister and father.

The Nets played two games during Irving’s league-imposed five-day quarantine period, and according to ESPN NBA analyst Bobby Marks, the salary he must forfeit for those two games totals $816,898. There is no forfeiture for missing the Magic game.

Irving actually missed the past five games for "personal reasons." Neither Irving nor the Nets have explained those reasons, but general manager Sean Marks on Thursday said Irving "is excited about getting back on the court with his teammates as soon as possible."

At the same time, Marks admitted the organization has been "disappointed" by Irving’s five-game absence. "We’re going to let Kyrie address this in his own way," Marks said. "Without a doubt, the organization is disappointed . . . Kyrie is not amongst us, not in the trenches with us.

"So, I don’t want to speculate and say why he’s out. I’ve had conversations with him, and I’ll continue to have conversations. We look forward to him being back in the gym, where he will address this and we’ll sit down with him. He’s part of our family."

The Nets have emphasized their "family culture," and Marks said, "If there’s reasonable excuses for their absence, fine. We have got support, whether it’s our players or whether it’s our staff, and you would do that in any industry. But you also hope there is a more than adequate excuse as to why he needs personal time, and he will address that without a doubt.

"We look forward to addressing it with Kyrie when he’s back in our building amongst his teammates, amongst his family and going from there."

New York Sports