Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving made her first appearance of the season on the team’s home field Sunday after being sidelined due to a Covid-19 vaccine warrant.
Irving amassed 16 points and 11 assists in the Nets’ 119-110 defeat to the Charlotte Hornets at Barclays Center.
His return to Brooklyn Hardwood came after New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced Thursday that he would allow New York professional athletes and artists to be exempted from the city’s vaccination mandate for workers.
The policy prevented Irving, a seven-time All-Star guard who chose not to receive a Covid-19 vaccine, from playing in 35 home games the Nets have played since the NBA season began in October. He played with the away team.
“I don’t take for granted what happened tonight. It was historic and I’m grateful that I got the chance to be out there with my brothers and to leave everything out there, ”Irving said after the game.
Irving was able to watch Barclays Center games as a spectator, but his presence in his home locker room at a game earlier this month saw the Nets impose a $ 50,000 fine for “violating local New York City law. and the health and safety of the championship “. protocols “.
The Nets have seven games remaining in the NBA regular season, five of which will be played at Barclays Center. The team’s next home game is Tuesday against the Detroit Pistons.
Adams said he expanded the vaccine exemption in part because the city’s economy – including the vendors and businesses that surround the city’s venues – thrives best when all of its stars attract people to those places. The city’s multibillion-dollar tourism industry, he said, is still suffering from the losses caused by the pandemic.
He also said he was doing it out of fairness, to put New York City-based artists “on an equal footing” with visiting artists, who were already exempt from the mandate, and because the city is now a “low-key city.” risk (Environment Covid-19 “.
“We are not doing it because there is pressure to do it. We are doing this because the city has to function, ”Adams said Thursday.
The expansion of vaccine exemptions means that all New York Yankees and Mets players can attend their house openings next month, regardless of their Covid-19 vaccination status.
Details of how many Yankees and Mets did not receive a Covid-19 vaccine were not immediately available.
At Thursday’s press conference, Yankees president Randy Levine said “some” of his team’s players weren’t vaccinated.
“You’ll have laws to live with with the ‘few’ and I can’t give you individuals,” Levine said, citing privacy and rules in Major League Baseball’s operational agreement with players.
The extended vaccine exemption covers city singers and other entertainers, but the decision frustrated unions of other types of workers who argued that the broader mandate isn’t necessary and people fired for not joining should be reinstated.
“If the warrant is not necessary for famous people, then it is not necessary for the cops who are protecting our city in the midst of a criminal crisis,” said Patrick J. Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York. . He noted that the union has “sued the city for months for his arbitrary and capricious vaccine mandate.”
A spokesperson for the United Federation of Teachers also disputed Adams’ move.
“Vaccinations are a key tool against the spread of Covid and the city should not create exceptions to its vaccination requirements without compelling reasons,” the FOT spokesperson said. “If the rules are suspended, especially for people with influence, the FOT and other city unions are ready to discuss how to apply exceptions to city workers.”
The executive director of District Council 37, a union of civil servants, said “thousands of city workers have lost their jobs due to the vaccine mandate.”
“These are the same essential workers who kept the city alive during the height of the pandemic. They deserve the respect and dignity of getting their jobs back, “said DC 37 official Henry Garrido.” They deserve to be treated the same as their private sector counterparts. We demand that those who have lost their jobs for the mandate are reinstated “.
Adams said the city is not investigating cases of 1,400 municipal employees who have been fired for not getting vaccinated. The figure includes those who were hired as a result of the warrants with the agreement to get vaccinated, but ultimately chose not to.
He said officials would continue to promote Covid-19 vaccines and hoped vaccination rates for all sports teams in the city would reach 100 percent.
“Kyrie … get the vaccine. Nothing has changed, ”Adams said Thursday.