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Kyrie Irving’s return to the court — unvaccinated and part-time — is as seismic as it is controversial. The Nets aren’t naïve to that. But Nets owner Joe Tsai told The Post they’re not trying to champion a cause. They’re trying to be champions. And letting Irving play — even if it’s just on the road — gets them closer. “We’re trying to be practical. And I’ve always said I don’t want to make this a political issue,” Tsai told The Post by phone Friday night. “My only religion is to win games and win the championship. That’s where we are.”
But now after seeing the roster decimated and Irving expressing a desire to return, Tsai and Marks brought him back — with Durant and Harden on board. “So I think a lot of people that are either pro-vax or anti-vax people are mad at me for taking one stance or the other. But I have said from the very beginning I’m not taking this as a political thing,” Tsai told The Post. “I’m doing this to help the Brooklyn Nets win a championship. That’s the thinking.”
Nick Friedell: Iguodala on the Kyrie news: "Kyrie's my man, so I hope he shows his talent to the world and continues to prove me right that he's a top player ever. They don't want us to see his skillset, though. His mind's too free."
LaMelo Ball will rejoin the Charlotte Hornets in Portland for their game Friday night against the Trail Blazers. Ball has missed the team's last six games while in the NBA's health and safety protocols. The NBA Rookie of the Year last season, he's listed as questionable on the team's injury report for the game.

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“I haven’t and I have no updates,” Nash said. “I have connected with him, but totally outside of the scope of the question and just [about] life in general. So, we connected last week, but not with any intel or insight that things are changing.
Players are not required to be vaccinated but those who are not face much stricter protocols. An estimated 97 percent of the league’s players were fully vaccinated. Increased game-day testing will begin this week for players who did not receive booster shots, depending on when they were vaccinated.
“You have a lot of supporters Kyrie,” Stockton told fellow vaccine skeptic podcast hosts Chad Fisher and Tony Farmer. “Not all them of can get to you, and you can’t get to all of them, but there’s every bit a majority out there that’s sitting there pulling for you. They’re just not quite as bold as he is. I’m proud of him as an individual to take that kind of individual risk and be that bold for what you feel is right.”
John Stockton is now dishing assists to Kyrie Irving and anti-vaxxers. While taking aim at “serial felon” vaccine manufacturers and “segregation” mandates, Stockton applauded Irving’s stance against the jab and pled with the Nets point guard to “hang in there.” The comments were part of the Hall of Famer’s interview with the DNP-CD Sports Podcast, which will be released Monday through Hot Pie Media.
Stockton, 59, the NBA’s all-time assist leader, had previously appeared in a vaccine conspiracy documentary while citing his “significant research” into COVID-19. On the podcast, Stockton said doctors are unknowingly peddling a dangerous vaccine because of fraudulent research pushed by pharmaceutical companies.
Stockton said he would’ve “trusted the doctors” and taken the vaccine early in his playing career, but would’ve resisted once he became more established and educated. “There’s not a chance I would risk any of that to play,” Stockton said. “My hope would be other guys would join in. And all of us lock arms. And none of us play.”
The COVID-19 vaccine, including Pfizer’s, was proven safe and effective through extensive clinical trials. Long-term side effects are “extremely unlikely,” according to the CDC. But Stockton claimed he’s certain the vaccines are harmful. “I can see it on the Internet,” he said. “And I know people. So indisputable.”
Adrian Wojnarowski: Any unvaccinated NBA player with temporary VISA status leaving the country will be unable to re-enter the United States, according to a memo obtained by ESPN. For example, a player would be unable to re-enter after playing in Canada, or traveling outside U.S. on All-Star weekend.
Shams Charania: Sources: Beginning Jan. 15, any NBA player who is not fully vaccinated will be unable to enter Canada to play games in Toronto. Canadian government will require all individuals entering Canada to be fully vaccinated.
The Nets still have championship aspirations, and the presence of Irving, who averaged 27 points, five rebounds and six assists last season, would certainly help in achieving that goal. They are still paying the seven-time All-Star for the road games he misses due to the team’s decision to not employ him as a part-time player for away contests. “From what I’ve seen, they’re still a good team without Kyrie, but they definitely need him,” former Nets guard Deron Williams recently told Bally Sports. “I hope everything gets figured out. But as far as my thoughts on Kyrie, he’s doing what’s best for him. I respect what he wants to do.”
Irving has not been sitting idly. According to people close to him, the seven-time All-Star has been working out pretty regularly, focusing on cardio, weight training and meditation, and spending time with his immediate family. “This is the happiest that I’ve seen Kyrie in years,” one source said.
Those closest to him also have shared that Irving knows anything he says will be magnified and scrutinized and he doesn’t want to be viewed as an anti-vaxxer. He’s not taking this stance to be a voice for the voiceless. He’s just not trusting of the available vaccines, according to sources.
Tim Reynolds: The NBA is up over the 60% mark now in eligible players having received booster shots. There will be a huge push to get that much higher in the coming days.
Adrian Wojnarowski: ESPN Sources: The NBA’s completed study with infectious disease specialists and testing manufacturers on preseason antibody test results of 2,300 players and staff, finding further evidence of need for the NBA-NBPA recommendation of booster dose of Covid-19 vaccine. Among study’s findings: Antibody levels vary via vaccine type and among people vaccinated in same period; antibodies decline over time; Moderna and Pfizer vaccines created higher levels of antibodies compared to J&J. After reviewing results, NBA’s infectious disease experts believe some individuals who received J&J vaccine at least two months ago – or a second dose of Pfizer or Moderna at least six months ago – have increased risk of breakthrough infections.
Adrian Wojnaroski: Per study, NBA's aware of 34 cases of vaccinated player or staff diagnosed with breakthrough case of Covid. 3 of 34 infections with individuals with "not detected" antibody levels; 31 of 34 had detectable antibody levels much lower than average of remaining testing population.
The Memphis Grizzlies, in partnership with the Shelby County Health Department (SCHD), announced today a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination event at Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum (adjacent to FedExForum) on Friday, Nov. 26, from 5-7 p.m. There will be 100 doses of the Pfizer-Biotech COVID-19 vaccine available for eligible persons aged 12 and older. Vaccine recipients at the event will each receive two Terrace Level tickets for that night’s game against the Atlanta Hawks.
Unvaccinated professional and amateur athletes will no longer be able to travel to Canada as of January 15, minister of public safety Marco Mendicino said on Friday. Currently, NBA and NHL players who have yet to receive one of Canada's approved COVID-19 vaccines are able to enter the country under a national interest exemption.
Those who remain unvaccinated will soon be unable to play games in Toronto against the Raptors or in any of the seven Canadian NHL teams' home arenas. It is unclear whether unvaccinated Canadian athletes who play for American teams would be able re-enter the country with their teams. However, beginning November 30, vaccination will be required for travel within and out of Canada.
When Joel Embiid will return from Covid-19 protocols Pompey: From what I’m hearing, it’s fluid. The earliest he can return is Thursday (Nov. 18). I’m hearing it could be a little later than that because he was symptomatic when he contracted Covid-19. Not only does he have to get the two negative tests and quarantine, Joel is one of these guys that when he takes time off, he’s a big guy and easily gets out of shape. He hasn’t been doing anything basketball-wise. Even once he comes back and is cleared, there’s probably going to be a return to play process taking place… He could return Thursday (Nov. 18), but I think it’s going to be a couple of days after that, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was next week or once they get back from this road trip because they’re playing at high altitude.
After Towns received his COVID-19 vaccination, he shared a picture on Instagram. George left a comment that made light of the concerns about the vaccine: “They say it shrinks your foot.” It was a moment where people who may not have understood the dynamics of Towns and George’s relationship may have thought George was being insensitive or sharing skepticism of the vaccine. But both men say that wasn’t the case at all.
“First of all, he called me personally, and was like, ‘You already know it’s a joke, right?'” Towns said of George’s comment on the Instagram post. “I was like, ‘Oh yeah, for sure.'” “I wasn’t thinking of it that way, obviously,” George acknowledged. “But the obvious is, you know, I’m sensitive to the situation. And it was probably not the best joke at the time. But I didn’t mean it in that way. Until people brought it to the attention of, you know, they’re trying to go left and right with it.”
Brandon Robinson: Kyrie Irving's vax choice is his @Spencer Dinwiddie tells me: "Everybody has their own decision to make and it’s not on me to make that decision for him. I believe that in any form, fashion or life so you know, he has to do what’s best for him and I’m not the man to judge at all."
Mark Medina: Lakers coach Frank Vogel said team plans to meet tomorrow to talk to players about COVID-19 booster shots, but said he didn’t have full details on everything that will be discussed
Noah Levick: Joel Embiid is now the fourth Sixer in the health and safety protocols, source confirms @Shams Charania. He joins Tobias Harris, Isaiah Joe and Matisse Thybulle.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: What’s especially bothersome is that Aaron Rodgers didn’t just lie and threaten the health of those around him, he also damaged professional sports. Many athletes make a lot of money on product endorsements, which depends on the public’s favorable perception of athletes. In 2020, global sports sponsorship was worth about $57 billion. Yet, every time a pro athlete like Kyrie Irving (anti-vax), Henry Ruggs (speeding at 156 mph, crashing, and killing someone), Evander Kane (forging vaccination card), or Aaron Rodgers does or says something stupid, the public trust in athletes lowers and sponsors might consider avoiding players in favor of actors, pop stars, or social media influencers. Steph Curry and LeBron James don’t have to worry, but some up-and-comers might not get the same opportunities.
Chris Rock stands with the medical community in supporting as many people as possible rolling up their sleeves to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. On Wednesday, he spoke out on the subject while at the mic, opening for the Strokes at the venue Brooklyn Steel. He also called out one unvaccinated person in particular: Kyrie Irving, a point guard for the NBA's Brooklyn Nets, who has refused to comply with New York City's vaccine mandate that professional athletes be vaccinated to practice or play in public venues. "Where's my anti-vaxxers at? Where you at?" the former Saturday Night Live star said. "You f****** dumb Kyrie motherf******."
And supporters that almost got out of control on Opening Day in Brooklyn. Now, Adrian Wojnarowski says Irving has “some hope, some optimism” that New York’s Mayor-Elect, Eric Adams, might possibly change the mandate that’s keeping him off the court when the new mayor takes office on January 1. Here’s how Woj explained it in talking with ESPN colleague Mike Greenberg Wednesday... “Eric Adams, the Mayor-Elect of New York City, talked today about revisiting possibly January 1 when he takes over, the city’s vaccine mandates for government workers and there’s some hope, some optimism, including, I’m told, around Kyrie Irving, that revisiting may also include performers and athletes including Kyrie Irving.”
A change in the New York City Mayor’s office could pave the way for Kyrie Irving to return to the Brooklyn Nets in 2022. Mayor-elect Eric Adams plans to “revisit” the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate rules once he takes office, according to the New York Post. “We need to revisit how we are going to address the vaccine mandates. Now, I stated I did not want to Monday-morning-quarterback the mayor [Bill de Blasio]. This is his time to be the man, he has to make the decisions,” Adams said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” per the Post.
He added on CNN’s “New Day” that “I hope the mayor -- and I am encouraging him to do that -- to sit down with unions and come to a resolution. And if he doesn’t, if this is still going to January, I’m going to sit down with them and we’re going to get this resolved.” The Nets last month banned Irving, a West Orange native, from practices and games because he’s not vaccinated against COVID-19. The team has said he can only return as a “full participant,” meaning either he gets vaccinated or New York’s regulations change. Irving is projected to lose about half of his $35 million salary this season as a result, but still gets paid for road games.
Mayor-elect Eric Adams vowed to “revisit” the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for municipal workers when he takes office and reach a “resolution” on the matter, as he took an election victory lap Wednesday morning. During a series of media appearances the day after he handily beat Republican opponent Curtis Sliwa, the Democrat also repeatedly promised he wouldn’t step on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s toes regarding the controversial jab order. “We need to revisit how we are going to address the vaccine mandates. Now, I stated I did not want to Monday-morning-quarterback the mayor. This is his time to be the man, he has to make the decisions,” Adams said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
As Kyrie Irving remains away from the Nets, refusing to adhere to the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, the team has moved on without him. Tuesday afternoon, in an ironic twist, the Nets and Liberty teamed up with Gov. Kathy Hochul to offer free tickets to anyone who gets vaccinated at Barclays Center — which Irving has been unwilling to do. “I think the message is that the team itself supports vaccinations,” Hochul said, when asked directly about Irving’s decision not to get vaccinated. “The vast, vast, vast majority of their players are vaccinated, and they’re here to support making sure that members of the community are vaccinated. That’s the takeaway from today’s event.”
Tim MacMahon: Mavs G Trey Burke, who is not vaccinated, is out vs. Spurs tonight due to Covid protocols. Kristaps Porzingis will sit at least the first game of the back-to-back due to the lower back tightness that caused him to exit early in Tuesday’s win.
Floyd Mayweather has stepped into the NBA ring involving Kyrie Irving and local COVID vaccine mandates. In a video posted to Twitter on Monday, Mayweather declared that he respected the Nets star for "having some integrity and being your own man." Under New York City's guidelines, unvaccinated Knicks and Nets players are not allowed to enter their home arenas for games. Knowing that Irving would only be available for road games until he is vaccinated against COVID-19, Brooklyn decided before the start of the 2021-22 regular season that Irving will not play or practice with the team until he is "eligible to be a full participant."
"America is the land of the free: freedom of speech, freedom of religion and, supposedly, freedom to choose. Never be controlled by money. I respect you for having some integrity and being your own man. A free mind makes his own choices, and a slave mind follows the crowd. Stand for something or fall for anything. One man can lead a revolution to stand up and fight for what's right. One choice, one word, one action, can change the world. It's crazy how people hate you for being a leader. I hope your actions encourage many others to stand up and say enough is enough.
Security staff at the venue are seen trying to push the protesters back away from the doors, while chants of “Let Kyrie play” ring out. The arena was forced to briefly go into lockdown until the situation was brought under control, a spokesperson for the Barclays Center told The Independent.
“Only ticketed guests were able to enter the building and the game proceeded according to schedule.” An NYPD spokesperson confirmed to The Independent that no arrests were made over the altercation.

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The Mavericks will soon lift their requirement that fans show either proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test within 48 hours to attend home games. At least as long as Dallas County data complies. As the daily average case count in Dallas County remains below 500, which it reached last week, the Mavericks will ease their health and safety protocol for fans, Mark Cuban told The Dallas Morning News.
A group of protesters gathered outside Barclays Center waving flags and signs while chanting, "No vaccine mandate, stand with Kyrie" before the Brooklyn Nets' home opener against the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday. Around 100 people stood in the plaza outside the arena and on the street blocking traffic on Flatbush Avenue, many showing their support for Nets point guard Kyrie Irving's decision not to get at least one vaccination shot to comply with New York City's mandate in order to play home games.
Ohm Youngmisuk: The scene outside Barclays Center where a group of protesters chant, “No vaccine mandate, Stand with Kyrie.” Several hold “Stand with Kyrie” signs. This is the Nets’ home opener. Kyrie Irving will be away from team until he complies with NYC vaccine mandate.

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Barbara Barker: Building in lockdown. They are not letting any more fans in. I just practically gave up my first born to get in media door.
Protesters who held a rally in Times Square last weekend against the city’s vaccine mandate will hold a demonstration this Sunday in support of the Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving, who has chosen not to get the COVID vaccine. Jo Rose, who was at the rally in Times Square and will attend the demonstration for Irving, told Fox News they will start at Commodore Battery Park and march to the Barclays Center ahead of the opening game for the Nets. Irving is not eligible to play home games in Brooklyn because of a New York City mandate.
One of the organizers, John Matland, told Fox News he anticipates several thousand attendees. Matland described the burgeoning movement as a "widely diverse group" united under the goal of stopping what they regard as an infringement on their personal liberties.
Andrew Lopez: Willie Green says every player on the Pelicans has received at least one shot. Should be fully vaccinated in a week or two when two guys receive their second dose.
Following Isaac going mega-viral when he spoke about not getting vaccinated, I reached out for an exclusive interview, and he was incredibly impressive. (RELATED: David Hookstead Is The True King In The North When It Comes To College Football) “It starts with me personally. I’ve had COVID in the past and I feel like I’ve done a good amount of research that’s only getting stronger that suggest immunity from natural infection is just as good, if not better than immunity from the vaccine. There’s the part about me being healthy. I’m young,” Isaac explained when I asked why he chose not to get vaccinated. He further added when talking about the hysteria, “This thing is crazy. It’s getting out of hand. I feel like people have been so weaponized and to a degree misguided by the media.”
Charles Barkley says there's no bad blood with Kenny Smith after their passionate debate over Kyrie Irving's refusal to get vaccinated ... telling TMZ Sports everything's cool between them. We talked to Chuck outside LAX on Wednesday ... and asked the Hall of Famer if he was beefin' with The Jet after the 2 buddies got into a heated conversation on "Inside The NBA." "Me and Kenny are great. We’re great," Barkley said, adding, "We can be different, it's all good."
Lakers legend Magic Johnson wants every NBA player to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Ahead of Opening Night of the league's 75th anniversary season, Johnson told CBS News that every player should advocate for vaccination of the general public. He also urged non-vaccinated NBA players to get vaccinated. "You have said to your teammates that you are going to be there for them, well you can't be there if you don't get vaccinated," Johnson said. "You letting them down and then that hurts our chances of winning a championship, I would never do that to my teammates. Never."
He not only praised the Brooklyn Nets franchise for their decision to not allow Irving to play but also had his say on the point guard's decision to not get vaccinated. "I really am proud of the Nets for putting their foot down," Barkley said. "For saying no, we're not going to deal with this half on, half off (situation). The only thing that bugs me is he's still going to make $17 million sitting at home."
Radio host Howard Stern tore into NBA superstar Kyrie Irving over the guard's refusal to receive a coronavirus vaccination, calling him "the biggest idiot in the country right now." "Talk about stupid, there’s some people who are willing to walk away from millions of dollars and not get vaccinated,” Stern said on his nationally syndicated radio program on Tuesday. “They’re so stupid they’re putting their mouth where their money is.” "In terms of idiots, he’s got to be the top idiot in the country right now," Stern said of Irving. "Guy's got a chance as a young man to make millions of dollars, all he’s got to do is get vaccinated, but he doesn't want to get vaccinated.”
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: This tepid kid-glove handling from players who have all gotten the vaccine appears more an attempt to preserve a congenial working relationship than true support for making asinine choices. They’re like the Real Housewives pretending they’ve got Erika Jayne’s back in her legal woes because they still have to go to dinner parties with her. Though they don’t mean to, by not strongly condemning Irving, they are signaling passive support, which is as damaging as joining him on the bench as a vaccine-denier.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Irving has made it clear—in an unclear way—that he is resisting getting vaccinated, not because he’s against the vaccine, but because he’s against mandates: “Just know that I'm rocking with all those that have lost their jobs to this mandate, and I'm rocking with all those that chose to get vaccinated and are choosing to be safe, as well. I'm on both sides of all this. I support and respect everybody's decision.” Respecting everyone’s decision sounds good—sounds so patriotic and All-American. But it’s lame logic. We don’t respect the choice of someone in an apartment building to let mold run rampant because it will make all the tenants sick. We don’t respect the choice of letting your house burn to the ground without fighting the fire because it may burn the neighbors’ houses, too.
"I would have preferred that ultimately that the Players Association agreed to mandatory vaccinations. The officials union agreed to mandatory vaccinations despite oppositions from some of their members. "But ultimately I think we could have avoided a lot of the adversarial nature of these issues for our players. It’s not so much with the league; I think that gets confused in some cases. This is between Kyrie and New York City right now. This is not a league issue. As you’ve pointed out, it’s not mandatory in the league. "But I think it would have been best for everyone if every player were vaccinated."
Kyrie Irving, due to an ordinance in New York City, is the only player ineligible to play in select games. "Well, at the time we were discussing it with the Players Association, the percentage I believe of players vaccinated was in the low 80s," said Silver. "I’m not sure they could have predicted at that point precisely how many players would choose not to get vaccinated. "I won’t try to speak for them, other than the view that some players had, I think including maybe some players who are vaccinated, that it should be individual choice among the players.
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June 29, 2022 | 3:44 am EDT Update
While only Dallas can offer a five-year contract and still has the ability to put a richer offer on the table than New York, sources indicate that the Mavericks don’t expect to be able to sway Brunson at this point. It is more likely, sources say, that Dallas will try to engage the Knicks in sign-and-trade talks to try to salvage a measure of compensation (and perhaps a trade exception) by trying to collaborate with New York on a deal.