Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets celebrates after he was...

Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets celebrates after he was fouled by Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics Game One of their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series on May 22, 2021 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Credit: Getty Images/Elsa

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Wednesday morning that he hopes New York City Mayor Eric Adams reconsiders the COVID-19 vaccination mandate as it relates to Kyrie Irving and eventually allows the Nets superstar guard to play in home games.

Irving, whom the Nets originally sat for all games this season before relenting and allowing him to play in away games, isn’t allowed to play at Barclays Center due to the city’s vaccination mandate. Silver, though, countered that this made little sense, since the current mandate allows unvaccinated visiting athletes to play.

"This law in New York, the oddity of it to me is that it only applies to home players," Silver said during an interview with ESPN’s "Get Up!" "I think if ultimately that rule is about protecting people who are in the arena, it just doesn’t quite make sense to me that an away player that’s unvaccinated can play in Barclays, but the home player can’t. So, to me, that’s a reason they should take a look at that ordinance."

This is the first time Silver and, by extension, the NBA, has come out in support of Irving playing at Barclays. Silver, who lives in New York, said he’s seen a shift as some masking restrictions lift and people begin to resume life as normal. And since the mandates were put in place by former mayor Bill de Blasio, Silver said a change in power could potentially mean a change in circumstance for Irving.

"My personal view is people should get vaccinated and boosted, but I could imagine a scenario where Brooklyn, as part of New York City, with a new mayor now, Eric Adams, who wasn’t in place when that original ordinance was put in place, I could see him deciding to change along the way and say it’s no longer necessary to have a mandatory vaccination requirement — as I said, particularly one that only affects home players," he said.

Adams, speaking at an unrelated event in the City Hall Rotunda on Wednesday, was asked about Silver's comments.

"First of all, I think the rule is unfair," Adams told Newsday. "I believe that we are saying to out-of-town athletes, that they can come in and not be vaccinated, yet New York athletes, you have to be vaccinated. And they also do this for entertainers. I want people to know that.

"Entertainers can come here without being vaccinated and perform. I think it’s unfair, and I’m not sure if a Boston fan created this rule. I don’t know. But 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. So I’m struggling with this, just to be honest with you."

In addition to the comments about Irving, Silver spoke on the James Harden trade, saying he wished it hadn’t played out the way it did. Harden was sent to the 76ers at the trade deadline along with Paul Millsap in a package that brought Ben Simmons, Andre Drummond and Seth Curry to Brooklyn. It was clear before the trade that the 76ers were eager to move Simmons, who had his run-ins with the team and hadn’t played since last season's Eastern Conference semifinals. Harden, too, was said to have wanted out of Brooklyn.

"You always hope those situations don’t play out publicly," Silver said. "I recognize that there are going to be situations where guys are unhappy, or teams are unhappy with them. But ideally, when players want to get traded or teams are preparing to make moves, those are conversations they have confidentially with players, they have confidentially with other teams. I would say obviously in this case, it’s not only played out publicly, but it’s been playing out since the season even began, particularly with Philly."

With Matthew Chayes

More Brooklyn Nets