Adam Silver: Nets’ Kyrie Irving can’t play because of New York, not NBA rules

As of Monday evening, Brooklyn Nets All-Star guard Kyrie Irving cannot play in games held at Barclays Center or Madison Square Garden because of the New York City mandate that requires players to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or have an approved medical or religious exemption to enter such venues. 

Per Tim Bontemps of ESPN, NBA commissioner Adam Silver admitted during Monday’s preseason news conference that he wanted the National Basketball Players Association to agree to a vaccination mandate for its members. The NBPA refused to sign off on such an agreement for the upcoming season. 

“I won’t try to speak for [the NBPA], other than the view that some players had, I think — including maybe some players who are vaccinated — that it should be an individual choice among the players,” Silver explained. “I would have preferred that ultimately that the Players Association agreed to mandatory vaccinations. The officials union agreed to mandatory vaccinations, despite opposition from some of their members. But ultimately I think we could have avoided a lot of the adversarial nature of these issues for our players. It’s not so much with the league. I think that gets confused in some cases.

“This is between Irving and New York City right now. This is not a league issue … but I think it would have been best for everyone if every player were vaccinated.” 

The Nets have essentially banished Irving from team activities until he’s eligible to be a full-time player who can participate in every game. As of Monday, there’s no indication he plans on changing his mind and receiving one of the safe and available coronavirus vaccines. 

“We’ll see how it plays out,” Silver added during his comments. “I mean, frankly I hope that Kyrie sort of — despite how strongly he feels about the vaccination — ultimately decides to get vaccinated because I’d love to see him play basketball this season, and I’d love to see the Brooklyn Nets have their full complement of players on the floor.”

It was reported last week that the Nets aren’t offering Irving a contract extension during his hiatus away from the organization. His current deal has a player option for 2022-23, meaning he could hit free agency next summer. 

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