Kyrie Irving’s extended absence from the Brooklyn Nets has been one of the biggest stories of the NBA season. We wrote an explainer on how Kyrie and the Nets got into this situation, but the short version looks like this: New York City passed an executive order that mandated NBA players on the Nets and Knicks must receive the Covid vaccine to play in home games, Irving refused to get vaccinated, and the Nets decided to keep him away from the team until reversing course recently and allowing him to play in road games only.
This has been one of the most bizarre stories in the recent history of the league, and it’s about to take another strange turn. Irving can apparently play in home games for the Nets this season so long as he or his team is willing to pay a small fine.
According to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, the penalty for breaking former mayor Bill de Blasio’s executive order caps out at a $5K fine. That’s nothing for billionaire Nets owner Joe Tsai, or for Irving himself.
Irving is still on a “road games only” schedule during the start of his return to the Nets. He’s played two games so far, and he scored 22 points in each. The Nets have been awesome all year even without Irving playing until recently. Brooklyn currently sits No. 2 in the Eastern Conference behind the Chicago Bulls.
The Nets have not announced if they’d be willing to pay the fine to let Irving return.
Kyrie Irving should still get the vaccine, because everyone should get it
The Covid vaccines are a massive achievement for humanity. They are safe and effective. Every other member of the Nets and Knicks is vaccinated. Irving should stop being stubborn and just get the jab. It’s not just about keeping himself safe — it’s about keeping everyone in New York City safe, too, and setting a good example for the people who look up to him.
Irving has never given a sensible reason for refusing to get the vaccine. His refusal to do it has made him a political pawn for a certain section of the population, and that’s not something Kyrie wants to be associated with. Irving might fancy himself as a freethinker, but in this instance he’s being ignorant.
The Nets shouldn’t let Kyrie play home games until he’s vaccinated
The optics of a billionaire owner and a player who is a millionaire many times over coming together to break a city-wide rule is going to be a terrible look. Is it right for the wealthy to be above the laws? Of course not. It’s garbage.
A $5K fan is a huge deterrent for any normal person that wants to break the NYC mandate. Tsai and Irving are not normal people. They are ridiculously rich. Just because the fine would be chump change for them doesn’t make it right.
Hopefully the Nets hold strong and don’t let Irving play home games until he’s vaccinated. Of course, the Nets also said they were going to keep Irving away from the team this season until he was vaccinated before they flip-flopped and allowed him to return for road games.
With Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Irving on the floor, the Nets would be the favorites to win the championship, as was the case before the season. If you believe in the concept of karma or “basketball gods,” it sure seems like playing Irving in home games and paying the fine would invite bad luck. Heck, the Nets could win the title anyway this year even if Kyrie is only playing road games.
We don’t know if the Nets will allow Kyrie to return for home games by paying the fine. This situation just keeps getting weirder. Where it goes next is anyone’s guess.