Brooklyn Nets All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving made an appearance in front of fans at the Barclays Center on Sunday, sitting in the stands as Brooklyn took down the New York Knicks 110-107.
Irving didn’t miss the game due to an injury or “load management.” Instead, Irving was forced to sit out Brooklyn’s 34th home game of the season due to being unvaccinated in New York City. He was able to attend the game as a fan after NYC Mayor Eric Adams lifted the public sector vaccine mandate in February. However, the private sector vaccine mandate is still in place, meaning Irving is ineligible to play at either Barclays Center or Madison Square Garden, home of the New York Knicks.
On Monday, the NBA announced that the Nets have been fined $50,000 for allowing Irving into the locker room during Saturday afternoon’s game.
“The Brooklyn Nets organization has been fined $50,000 for violating local New York City law and league health and safety protocols during the team’s March 13th game against the New York Knicks at Barclays Center, the NBA announced today,” NBA communications said in a statement. “The violation occurred when the Nets permitted Kyrie Irving, who was in attendance at the game, to enter the team’s locker room.”
According to ESPN, the locker room is considered part of the “workplace environment,” thus subject to the local NYC private sector vaccine mandate.
Following the game, Brooklyn star Kevin Durant — who had 53 points in the Nets win — took aim at New York City’s mayor, telling Adams to “figure this out” when it comes to his unvaccinated teammate.
“It’s ridiculous,” Durant said, according to ESPN. “I don’t understand it at all. There’s a few people in our arena that’s unvaxxed, right? They lifted all of that in our arena, right? So I don’t get it … I don’t get it. It just feels like at this point now, somebody’s trying to make a statement or a point to flex their authority. But everybody out here is looking for attention and that’s what I feel like the mayor wants right now, is some attention. But he’ll figure it out soon. He better.”
“But it just didn’t make any sense,” Durant continued. “There’s unvaxxed people in this building already. We got a guy who can come in the building, I guess, are they fearing our safety? I don’t get it. We’re all confused. Pretty much everybody in the world is confused at this point. Early on in the season people didn’t understand what was going on, but now it just looks stupid. So hopefully, Eric, you got to figure this out.”
On Monday, the Nets released a statement from Durant, clarifying his remarks.
“The last two years have been a difficult and painful time for New Yorkers, as well as a very confusing time with the changing landscape of the rules and mandates,” Durant said according to NetsDaily. “I do appreciate the task the Mayor has in front of him with all the city has been through. My frustration with the situation doesn’t change the fact that I will always be committed to helping the communities and cities I live in, and play in.”
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