BOSTON — As Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving waits for New York City Mayor Eric Adams to roll back the city’s vaccination mandate so that he will be allowed to play in home games once again, he does so believing that Adams is « on my side. «
« Shoutout Eric Adams, man, » Irving said after the Nets’ 126-120 loss to the Boston Celtics on Sunday. « It’s not an easy job to be the mayor of New York City. And with COVID looming, the vaccination mandates, everything going on in our world, with this war in the Ukraine, and everybody feeling it across America, I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes right now trying to delegate whether or not one basketball player can come and play at home. I appreciate his comments and his stance. He knows where I stand.
« And I know one day we’ll be able to break bread together and he’ll be able to come to the games and hopefully we’ll move past this time like it never happened in our sense.
« But, it’s just the reality that it’s been difficult on a lot of us in New York City and across the world. So, I know he’s feeling it and I’m just grateful that he’s on my side, as well as the commissioner [of the NBA]. »
Irving’s comments are the first he’s made publicly since Adams said last week that he « would send the wrong message » to the rest of the city if he were to make an exception for Irving to play without being vaccinated.
« Listen, I want Kyrie on the court, » Adams said during an interview with CNBC. « I would do anything to get that ring. So badly, I want it. But there’s so much at stake here. And I spoke with the owner of the team. We want to find a way to get Kyrie on the court, but this is a bigger issue, » Adams said in the interview.
« I can’t have my city closed down again. It would send the wrong message just to have an exception for one player when we’re telling countless number of New York City employees, ‘If you don’t follow the rules, you won’t be able to be employed.' »
Both Irving and the Nets were hopeful that the mandate would get pulled back soon, but since it hasn’t yet, it remains unclear when or if Irving will be able to play in home games at Barclays Center this year. When asked if he had considered the possibility of not being able to play at home all season, Irving demurred.
« Now we play the waiting game, bro, » Irving said. « I’m waiting just as much as you. »
As Irving plays the waiting game about his future, he was reminded of his past as he was repeatedly booed loudly by Celtics fans throughout Sunday’s game, going just 8-for-18 from the field. Irving publicly said he wanted to sign long-term with the Celtics, only to stay in Boston for just two seasons before moving on to Brooklyn.
« I know it’s going to be like that for the rest of my career coming in here, » Irving said. « So it’s like the scorned girlfriend — wants an explanation on why I left, but still hoping for a text back. I’m just like, ‘It’s fun while it lasted.’ I think that’s the relationship that makes it fun, but the reality is I’m just grateful for my time here in Boston. Everybody in the front office, everybody in that locker room treated me well. Still have lasting relationships in our league that extend as a brotherhood for us. And we still remain close. »