Updated Saturday, October 6, 2021, at 11 a.m.: Eric Adams definitively quashed the idea of lifting vaccine mandates Friday night, negating much of the speculation below. The points made by the writer about what it would mean stand on their own.
Kyrie Irving vaccination watch 2021 may have received a boost — not booster — from Election Day 2021. If New York mayor-elect Eric Adams, who takes office Jan. 1, lifts vaccine mandates, Irving would most likely be welcomed back to the Nets regardless of vaccination status, according to Brooklyn coach Steve Nash.
Adams, a former police officer, already said he wants to revisit the mandates for municipal workers as unvaccinated officers are being suspended. It’s completely feasible that he would get rid of them because it’s hard to be a “get stuff done” mayor if you’re at odds with the police department/unions.
Entertainers and professional athletes would have to get their own mandates removed, but it’s possible that could happen depending on what political favors Adams could curry by doing so.
If that did happen and Irving was allowed to return to the Nets, it’d be too bad. Not for the Nets or their hundreds of new fans or Irving or vaccine martyrs as a whole, but for the rest of us who thought, “Hey, this ‘my body, my choice’ argument doesn’t make sense when it affects all bodies.” (That’s not Irving’s argument, though I’ll let you know what his is when he figures it out.)
The NBA and the NBA Players Association are as complicit in this “let the states set the rules” approach to COVID as Nash and the Nets organization because Irving would be playing if not for New York’s current restrictions. It’s easier to pass blame when you’re not the one making the difficult decisions.
Commissioner Adam Silver has had to make myriad tough choices the past couple of years, some of which were unpopular, and he seemed to be leaning the way of vaccine mandates, but couldn’t finalize one with the Players Association. It might have been helpful considering what’s going on in other leagues (see Rodgers, Aaron) and what’s started happening in the NBA.
Since the start of this week, Khris Middleton, Tobias Harris, Kevin Love, Lauri Markkenen, Jakob Poetl and some player named Isaiah Joe have been put in health and safety protocols. It could be an early season blip with players still getting acclimated to this year’s rules, or it could be a result of rules changing from city to city and the general chaos that creates for all travelers.
Letting an unvaccinated, irresponsible Irving saunter back into the locker room of one of your most trendy franchises is a choice that seems harmless now, but could become detrimental if an outbreak occurs at an inopportune time. Would you rather have Bucks-Suns Round 2 or a Nets-Lakers “battle of the future Hall of Famers” in The Finals? Why let a factor you can control possibly mess that up?
Few COVID-related comeuppances make me happier than an anti-vaxxer being forced to get “jabbed,” so Irving potentially getting a free pass to return to the court despite learning jack shit is triggering. He won’t even get to die on the hill he conjured.
Local ordinances shouldn’t dictate the outcome of the NBA Finals, nor should they dictate who can play in what arena. The NBA and the player’s union, for the sake of its fragile product, should.
This is not an A + B = C argument, because nothing is with COVID. The anti-vaxxers see a player being “persecuted” for his stance on the vaccine and they see the NBA — an openly “woke” league — and automatically pit one against the other. Mayor-elect Adams may get lauded for helping the Nets with their title chances, but the loser would be the NBA and the winner would be Irving.
The part about this that most fills me with rage is that Irving would continue to think he’s right. You could take him up in SpaceX with Elon Musk and have him stare at a round Earth, and he’d still tell you it’s flat.
We get it, you’re a contrarian. You carry a walking stick. I was reluctant to watch Ted Lasso because the internet was annoyingly persistent, but I did, and now I am a better person for it. Get the shots.
Regardless of who makes the eventual call, if Irving is allowed to play without getting vaccinated, not only will he continue to be a face/pawn for an asinine movement, but the NBA and the Players Association will have inadvertently furthered his stance because they opted not to have a stance of their own.