Memphis, TN – Kerry Irving’s season-long ban from Brooklyn is finally over.
Mayor Eric Adams is preparing to announce Thursday that Irving and other unvaccinated athletes He will now be allowed to play professional sports in the city under a major policy change. Politico has been the first to report the news, which has since been confirmed by The Post, and it will come as the best possible birthday present for Irving.
And the biggest boost the Nets could have hoped for was in their pursuit of their first-ever NBA title, going from contender to favorite.
“I welcome that,” Brooklyn coach Steve Nash who was deadlocked before Wednesday’s game at the Memphis Grizzlies.
Despite the delivery, Nash’s Cheshire Cat smile told the story of how big this was for Brooklyn.
Irving, who turned 30 on Wednesday, has played only 20 games all season and was banned from New York for refusing to abide by the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates. He didn’t make his season debut until January 5, a situation that is holding up the entire season.
But this shift in policy will not only affect the networks, but could be groundbreaking in determining the NBA Finals.
“Good,” Nash said. “I don’t want to say anything else about it.”
Changing the vaccine’s mandate would allow the private sector to exempt workplace athletes and entertainers, making Irving (as well as the unvaccinated Yankees and Mets) suddenly eligible for home games. It could be announced Thursday at Citifield.
but then Kevin Durant angered the mayor’s office by summoning AdamsNash wouldn’t be drawn to a question about the power of drawing and lobbying for the looming baseball season helping move the needle.
“Um, I don’t know I should say anything about it now,” said Nash. “Let’s just wait and see where the chips fall.”
Since taking office on New Year’s Day, Adams has been gradually and systematically relaxing the COVID policies instituted by his predecessor Bill de Blasio.
Without this change, Irving was only eligible to play two of the Nets’ remaining nine games in the regular season: Saturday in Miami and the following weekend in Atlanta. That is about to change, and it could play a role in the Eastern Conference race.
“I’m not into politics, man. I play basketball. Center Andre Drummond said Wednesday morning about Irving’s situation.” All the mayor decides to do is what he does.
“I hope he makes a decision to do something to help [Irving] Somehow, somehow, if he had to test before the games or whatever it might be. But at the end of the day, I have no control over it. I can only control what is going on on the field, and I hope the best will happen.”
It looks like the best case scenario is about to happen.
Irving came into Wednesday with an average of 27.7 points, and is on the cusp of repeating last season’s 50/40/90 shooting splits.
Brooklyn has an offensive rating of 119.3 with Irving on the floor, the highest rating for any player who has averaged at least 20 minutes and played at least 10 games. And 126.3 with Irving and Durant on the field together are a top 5 player in the entire league championship level.
“He’s a professional,” Drummond said. “He’s taken a stand for what he believes in, but he’s still a professional. When he comes back, he doesn’t miss a moment. He does the work necessary to make sure he doesn’t miss anything when he comes back. We are all happy when he comes back and we try to put pressure on him while he’s gone.”
But now it looks like Irving won’t disappear with every home game anymore.
“[Wednesday is his] It’s his birthday, Drummond said, so God knows what’s going to happen. “I’m just thinking on a serious note, like I said before, with Kyrie, he’s a real pro. When he steps on the floor, he hangs his hat and does whatever he’s supposed to do, so whether it’s 50 points or six points, it makes an impact regardless.”
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