New York City Mayor Eric Adams didn't show any signs publicly that he was ready to peel back the private sector vaccine mandate that prevented unvaccinated Kyrie Irving from playing at Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden.

According to Politico, Adams has reversed course and intends to lift the mandate, thereby allowing Irving and other unvaccinated professional athletes including Mets and Yankees players to play in NYC.




The reported decision comes approximately two weeks prior to the NBA playoffs starting and with optimism Irving would be eligible on a full-time basis at an all-time low in recent days.

The private sector mandate is reviewed Thursday each week and the official word is expected by tomorrow.

Brooklyn is two games back of Toronto for the seventh seed and three games back of Cleveland for sixth with ten games remaining.

The Nets have won five of the last six games and were hoping to avoid the play-in tournament and if the mandate is officially lifted, achieving the sixth seed with Irving fully in the fold is with their reach.


 

 



None of us are getting any younger. The same can be said for superstar Kevin Durant who will turn 34 at the start of next season. Kyrie Irving, who is still unable to play, but can spectate at Barclays Center, is only available for road games not in Toronto or at MSG. 

Ben Simmons, who it was revealed this week has a herniated disc in his injured back, will need everything to go right in order to make a return in time for the playoffs.

Irving, 29, and Simmons, 25, are still approaching the prime of their respective careers. Durant, 33, is at the apex of his prime, arguably the league's best player and in dire need of his runningmates to be available and healthy for a championship pursuit.

While Durant signed with the club for five years, his commitment to Brooklyn is unwavering, but how long can he maintain his status as the NBA's premier player as he gets up into his mid-to-late 30's?

It's a question not enough people are asking and frankly, one Nets fans may wish to avoid addressing.

It's the 1,000 pound gorilla in the room, but any way you slice it, if the 2021-2022 campaign falls short of a title, it will be an utter disappointment and a lost season for the Nets and Durant.

Injuries have ravaged the Nets' current trio of stars and even impacted former Net James Harden throughout the regular season and last year's playoffs.

Harden's unofficial trade demand was a combination of factors including philosophical differences with Steve Nash, Irving's refusal to get vaccinated, and Durant being option 1 in the offense.

 Harden is ultimately in the place he wanted to be, Philadelphia, reunited with former GM Daryl Morey and teamed up with MVP candidate Joel Embid.

He left Durant and the Nets for greener pastures, but Brooklyn ultimately won the trade in perhaps the short term and long-term with a knockdown 3-point specialist in Seth Curry, a rebounding giant in Drummond and a budding star who became disenfranchised with his teammates and fans in Philadelphia in Simmons.

If the Nets ever put all the pieces together, the rest of the league will be put on notice, but with a part-time Irving and Simmons yet to practice, this could ultimately wind up being a lost season with prime Durant for the franchise.

 


Per Shams Charania in a report for The Athletic, Nets point guard Ben Simmons is nursing a herniated disc in his back that has kept him out of practice since Brooklyn acquired him in February.



Simmons received an epidural and the team is seeing how he responds to the treatment before ramping him up from individual drills then to full practice mode, and eventually game action.

Time is dwindling for the Nets to see their trio of stars take the court together, but another interesting nugget from Charania's report is that despite pubic comments by New York City Mayor Eric Adams to the contrary, internally and throughout the league, the expectation is the private sector mandate preventing Kyrie Irving from playing at Barclays Center will be peeled back in time for the playoffs.

Despite all these question marks, the Nets have the shortest odds to win the Eastern Conference at +300. The stars will literally need to align in Brooklyn and that needs to happen fast for those championship expectations to become a distinct reality.

 


Blame Eric Adams, New York City public officials or whomever you'd like for why unvaccinated Kyrie Irving can't play at Barclays Center but can attend as a fan, yet the reality is rules are rules.

No matter how nonsensical, arbitrary or not rooted in science the rules are, Irving and the Nets had to know his part-time eligibility was a likely scenario.

When Irving elected not to take an FDA approved vaccine that has flattened the COVID-19 pandemic curve significantly, he left the fate of his and the team's season up to local officials.

And, here we are, approaching the final ten games of the year with Irving's status still in limbo. The Nets even reversed course on their initial decision to preclude Irving from playing in games to start the year as a part-time player, only to allow him to return in January.

Irving had a personal choice to take the vaccine and he put his priorities ahead of the team's, the city's and the fan's. Any way you slice it, basketball is a team sport that calls for sacrifice in many regards, and while it would be acceptable if Irving had a medical it religious exemption, that is not the case.

Irving hasn't truly revealed the reason behind his unwillingness to get vaccinated except to say that he's doing it for the people who are losing their jobs for making the same choice.

Ironically, Mayor Adams fired approximately 1,400 city employees for not complying with local vaccine mandates and now everyone is clamoring to make an exception for Irving.

Is it fair to fire people living paycheck to paycheck for not getting vaccinated, while allowing Irving, a multimillionaire, generational talent to play for Brooklyn?

Absolutely not.

Irving had an opportunity to avoid this disastrous scenario, but made an unpopular choice that he and the team are now bearing consequences of.

In a pandemic that has taken the lives of millions worldwide and there's little room for pity and empathy in Irving's case.




 When the Brooklyn Nets signed Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant back in the summer of 2019, they could only dream of how great both superstars would be together on the same team.

This past Sunday afternoon against the Knicks, Durant dazzled with 53 points on 19 of 37 from the court. It was hard to imagine that his running mate, Irving, could top those special numbers, but boy did the Nets' point guard show out in Orlando.

Irving notched 41 at halftime and 60 for the game, shattering the old franchise mark set by Deron Williams in February of 2010.

The duo of Irving and Durant became the first teammates to score 50-plus in back to back games in NBA history.

 Steve Nash took Irving out with 8:30 remaining in the fourth and his team blowing out the Magic by nearly 30 points.

Irving was wildly efficient from the field, going 20 of 31 overall and 8 of 12 from 3-point range.

Irving became the 32nd player in NBA history to score 60 or more points in a game. 

Most importantly, the Nets have now won four in a row and sit three games in the loss column behind seventh seeded Toronto and four behind sixth seeded Cleveland.

With 13 games left, Irving is only eligible for three games with the private sector mandate absurdly prohibiting him from playing at Barclays Center, but allowing him to attend as a fan.

Irving's availability for future home games will be among the most major developments impacting the Nets' pursuit of a title.

 



When you have arguably the greatest scorer of the modern era on your team, it's easy to see why teammates give him the ball and let him cook.

And Kevin Durant was cooking with gas on Sunday afternoon against the Knicks as he poured in 53 points at Barclays Center.

Durant's jaw dropping play cements him as the league's premier player and had he not missed significant time with a sprained MCL in his left knee, he'd be the leading candidate for MVP.

Among all the superlatives to describe Durant's game, the rest of the Nets' utter reliance on him to singlehandedly carry the team to victory is not a sustainable formula moving forward.

Look no further into the past than the 2021 NBA semifinal playoffs against the Bucks. Without Kyrie Irving and a banged up Harden hobbling around the final three games, Durant scored 49 in Game 5 and 48 in Game 7 to put his undermanned team with tenths of an inch from advancing.

Brooklyn's offense was stagnant for large stretches of that series as teammates merely ball watched Durant and aside from Jeff Green were somewhat non-existent.

To beat the NBA's elite clubs in the playoffs, the Nets, and specifically Steve Nash, can't only hitch his wagon to Durant's hero ball, but need to be clicking on all cylinders to make a championship a reality.

At 33 years of age, Durant is still in his prime, but heavy minutes and even heavier usage rates are going to tire out even the most highly conditioned athlete.

Nash and company can count on Durant to carry them for stretches of games, particularly in the clutch moments, but Brooklyn needs a more balanced attack the rest of the regular season and playoffs if it hopes up achieve its ultimate goal.






LeBron James and Kyrie Irving didn't exactly have a storybook ending together in Cleveland, but that didn't stop the Lakers superstar from siding with his former teammate.

Lots has been made regarding the hypocrisy of New York City's private business vaccine mandate that allows Irving to attend Barclays Center as a fan but not play in games.



 James is calling it how he sees it regardless of how is personal relationship with Irving deteriorated in his final season alongside him in Cleveland and in the years since both of their departures.

At the end of the day, the inconsistencies with the mandate are a bit mind numbing, but the situation is within Irving's control if he were to reverse course and comply with the vaccine mandate. 

James has a huge sphere of influence in the NBA, but it's unlikely the league will change its stance and allow Nets' owner Joe Tsai to simply pay fines and allow Irving to play.

Something has to give in a predicament where either side doesn't appear to be ready to blink.


 



For those who thought New York City Mayor Eric Adams, an admitted Brooklyn Nets fan, would loosen the vaccine mandate to pave the way for Kyrie Irving to return full-time, that scenario appears less and less likely.

Making a public appearance to unveil a $2.2 million renovation at Saratoga Park in Brooklyn, Adams responded to a heckler in attendance that implored him to allow Kyrie Irving to play.



"Listen, Kyrie can play tomorrow. Get vaccinated," Adams fired back at the heckler.

As we all know, Irving has shown zero willingness to even discuss his rationale for not getting vaccinated, nevertheless take the vaccine. Irving has made a choice, but now he as well as his teammates and Nets fans need to deal with the consequences.

Something has to give. The Nets host the Knicks on Sunday as Irving will be eligible to sit in the stands, but not play on the court. The mandates were rightfully put into place to avoid community spread, but it's impossible to ignore the hypocrisy that Irving can sit as a fan in his own arena and practice at the team's facility, but not play in a game.

There are 15 games left in the season, only four more Irving is eligible for before the playoffs.

Irving is expected to sit courtside for Sunday's matinee matchup at Barclays Center between the Knicks and Nets.

Unless Adams reverses course in a hurry, there's no sign Irving's part-time status will be changing anytime soon.



 The COVID-19 pandemic is no joking matter. Let me say this upfront. As the virus enters an endemic phase of community spread, cities across the country are loosening and removing vaccine restrictions.

New York City has a pseudo-loosening of certain mandates, but in the case of Kyrie Irving, who still remains unvaccinated, he's still precluded from playing at Barclays Center or MSG as a player, but as of March 7 is now allowed to attend as a fan. In fact, Irving was spotted at Duke's conference tournament at Barclays on Saturday taking in the action from the stands.

Look we all know the 1,000 pound gorilla in the room. Irving could have made things easy on himself, his teammates and fans, by simply opting to take the vaccination. If this was the case, perhaps James Harden is still a Net and Brooklyn isn't vying for a spot in the play-in tournament.

But alas, Irving is staying steadfast in his choice, one that he rightfully has, but with it comes consequences in the form of public backlash, fines for not complying and perhaps most importantly of all, not joining his vaccinated teammates on a full-time basis in a pursuit for a title.

Former Mayor Bill deBlasio instituted the KeytoNYC vaccine mandate to minimize community spread of the virus. The hypocrisy of some of the rules within the legislation are being exposed as Irving is as much a threat to spread the virus to attendees at the game as a fan as he is as a player on the court.

Current NYC Mayor Eric Adams laid off approximately 1,400 city employees just last month, individuals who took Irving's exact stance regarding vaccination. So now the optics wouldn't look particularly great for the mayor to reverse course and allow a basketball player to resume playing and get paid, while hard working city employees lost their jobs. It's a predicament that Irving and the Nets find themselves in with the playoffs around the corner.

The fate of the Brooklyn Nets season rests at the hands of NYC politicians instead of within the control of coaches and players in the locker room. Irving's status is one to keep a close eye on over the next two weeks.



 


With only 15 games remaining in the regular season, the Brooklyn Nets are hopeful a heck of a lot will come together in a short period of time.

Kyrie Irving is only eligible for four more games, assuming there are no changes to New York City's workplace vaccine mandate, and Ben Simmons has yet to practice fully. Irving is almost certainly not willing to take the vaccine and Simmons has been working with the training staff to nurse his aching back.

Simmons needs to clear several hurdles before he can even consider returning to the NBA court. The Nets' newly acquired point guard will need to progress from light court work, to 1-on-1 drills, then 3-on-3, followed by full 5-on-5 practices.

Simmons is merely at the first stage of a four phase process with the regular season window shrinking fast.

Granted, if Simmons and Irving take the floor together on a full-time basis, this will put the rest of the league on notice. Yet, if you've followed the Nets closely over the last few years, many of those 'what if scenarios' relating to the health and availability of the team's stars often doesn't come to fruition.

A lot can change in a week, but the stars will need to align from a health and COVID-19 protocol standpoint for Brooklyn to enter the playoffs fully loaded.

Even if the pieces fall into place to make that happen, the Nets are currently slated to travel to Toronto for a seven versus eight seed play-in game, in a city where Irving will not be eligible regardless of NYC loosen its restrictions.

Should the Nets survive that scenario by either beating Toronto or winning the do or die game to secure the eighth seed, a team like Milwaukee or Philadelphia could be well rested awaiting Brooklyn's arrival.

A path to a championship is still visible, but the basketball Gods will need to be on the Nets' side for a change  to make that a reality.




James Harden's decision to jump ship on the Brooklyn Nets back in February isn't one Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving will soon forget.

In fact, Brooklyn's dynamic duo combined for 47, while former Sixer Seth Curry dropped 24 in a dominating 129-100 wire to wire win.

On the losing side, Harden went 3-17 for just 11 points, while Embid led Philly in scoring with 27 on 5 for 17 from the field.

Irving, not known for his defensive prowess, dialed up the pressure on Harden with stifling play by limiting him to just six assists and five turnovers.

Durant and Embid exchanged trash talking pleasantries in the first half with the Nets superstar refusing to back down from the bruising center.

With Ben Simmons on the Nets' bench taking in the beatdown of his former club, the Philly crowd rudely, but expectedly greeted him in the arena with a chorus of boos and profanity-laced chants.

Brooklyn pulled above the .500 mark at 34-33, good enough for eighth place in the Eastern Conference and slated for a play-in game in Toronto, where an unvaccinated Irving is still ineligible.

With 15 games remaining, the prospect of Simmons' return to the court along with the potential of a full-time Irving upon anticipated loosening mandate restrictions, make the Nets a feared force in the East come playoff time.


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