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Nets star Kyrie Irving could have path to play unvaccinated if NYC mayor-elect Eric Adams revisits mandates

Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) lowers his mask

Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) lowers his mask to talk to a teammate during practice at Brooklyn Bridge Park on Saturday, Oct 9, 2021. Credit: Brad Penner

New York City mayor-elect Eric Adams spoke to several media outlets on Wednesday and said he might "revisit how we are going to address the vaccine mandates." Adams was quick to add that he didn’t want to second-guess outgoing mayor Bill de Blasio, who has required all municipal workers to be vaccinated or face unpaid leave.

Adams focused primarily on the relationship between the mayor’s office and local municipal unions, but the remarks by the Brooklyn borough president also might impact his hometown NBA franchise, the Nets. Should Adams lift the city vaccine mandate when he takes office in January, it would clear the way for superstar Kyrie Irving to return to action.

Because he remains unvaccinated and therefore ineligible to play games in New York City, the Nets decided on Oct. 12 to tell Irving he cannot practice or play road games until he becomes eligible for all games because the notion of him being a part-time player is untenable.

Asked before the game against the Hawks Wednesday night at Barclays Center if the Nets would welcome Irving back if the mandate is lifted or if they still want him to get vaccinated, coach Steve Nash said, "I might be speaking out of turn, but I think if the mandate changes, he’d be welcomed back for sure."

Nets owner Joe Tsai is a strong proponent of the COVID-19 vaccines and has supported community vaccine programs. Tsai recently told he "respects" Irving’s position but doesn’t understand it.

"I have all the patience in the world with Kyrie," Tsai told "He’s on the roster, just not on the court."

Less than three weeks ago while campaigning, Adams made reference to the Irving situation in relation to the vaccine mandate, saying he was "extremely optimistic" the path for Irving’s return to play would materialize. "I think this is going to work itself out," Adams said then.

Now Adams is in position to make it happen.

New York Sports