The 30-year-old point guard — who’s been banned from home games over his unvaccinated status — is now eligible to play at the Barclays Center. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, he may make his home debut as soon as Sunday (March 27) during the Brooklyn team’s matchup with the Charlotte Hornets.
The update about Irving’s full-time role comes on the heels of recently announced changes in New York City’s vaccine mandate. As Mayor Eric Adams revealed on Thursday (March 24), proof of COVID-19 vaccination is no longer required by private workers, including professional athletes and entertainers. He argued that it was only fair as loopholes in recent measures from previous administration allowed visiting players and performers to continue on with their duties despite being unvaccinated. Adams also explained that New York is now a “low-risk [COVID-19] environment,” and added that the economy benefits when A-listers attract people to the city.
“We’re not doing it because there are pressures to do it. We’re doing it because the city has to function,” Adams said at a news conference. “This is about supporting our local vendors, our local stores … and hearing those vendors on the ground … saying how important it is [that] players attract people to the stadium.”
As fans know, Irving’s anti-vaxx stance has been a recurring topic in sports since vaccines were made requirements last year. Initially, the Nets decided to ban the baller from all games. Following a slew of injuries and an increase of Omicron cases, the team eventually let up and allowed Irving to play with them for away games. Adams had previously expressed his displeasure with the decision but claimed he would not lift the private sector mandate solely for Irving.
Though an update has been made in the NYC COVID-19 mandates, vaccines are still required for government employees.
“We will look for other ways to ease restrictions when it is safe to do,” the mayor said. “As I’ve stated, we are going to peel it back and turn around the economy of this city. Tough choice. Difficult choice. Those who say yay and those who say nay. That’s what I was elected to do. I was elected to make tough choices.”