NBA Rumor: Coronavirus Vaccine

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Nets hired lobbyist to push NYC mayor to change vaccine rules to exempt Kyrie Irving

It’s clear the mandate change and Irving’s stance put an end to those title hopes. Sitting second in the East on Jan. 15, the Nets dropped 16 of 21 after Durant suffered a left knee injury. They fell to eighth by the time he returned six weeks later — and Tsai took action. On Feb. 6, Irving said, “Anything can happen these next few days, the next week. Just crossing my fingers that something can come up either before All-Star break or even just after.” Two days later — with the Nets on an eight-game losing skid — they hired ex-New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson to lobby new Mayor Eric Adams about changing the mandate so Irving could play at home.

Isaac, who hasn’t played since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the “NBA bubble” in August 2020, spoke at the ReAwaken America Tour hosted by Clay Clark on Saturday in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He touched on why he chose to stand for the national anthem in the “bubble,” his thoughts on the Black Lives Matter organization and why he chose not to get the COVID-19 vaccine — a topic he touched on during the preseason. When reached for comment Sunday afternoon, the Magic issued a statement to the Orlando Sentinel via the organization’s chief communications officer Joel Glass in response to Isaac’s remarks, saying: “Jonathan is a thoughtful young man with tremendous faith who has done great work in the community and is using his platform to express his voice.”

Jonathan Isaac addresses refusing COVID-19 vaccine

Jonathan Isaac, sidelined since tearing his left ACL in the 2020 NBA bubble, resurfaced as a speaker in the Myrtle Beach of the ReAwaken America Tour by Clay Clark. “Viewing it, it seemed forced. It seemed that there was so much pressure in doing it,” he mentioned explaining once more his decision to refuse the vaccine against COVID-19, “I don’t see the wisdom in putting something into my body that’s not going to stop me from getting the virus or transmitting it. That is why I decided to be the only player on my team to not get vaccinated.”

As the Brooklyn Nets stare down the fact that their season is on the verge of coming to an abrupt end, coach Steve Nash said he is not thinking about what might have been had Nets guard Kyrie Irving been vaccinated against COVID-19 before the season. “I don’t think about it,” Nash said. “That’s not realistic. It’s not a worthy exercise. We deal with what’s in front of us. We deal in reality. And our reality is the one we’re facing and if you don’t face that reality with honesty and presence you’re not going to get anywhere.”

Kyrie Irving on vaccine stance: 'I know that I made the right decision for me'

Irving’s response came after he was asked what his message would be to people who have followed his story — specifically those who acknowledge that he had every right to take the stance he took but say his choice put the team in a much less advantageous position, especially as the playoffs begin. The Nets come into their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Boston Celtics as the seventh seed following a regular season in which Irving’s vaccination status hung over the organization. “I can’t address everybody, but as we move forward in time I know that I made the right decision for me,” Irving said.

“It’s a great feeling when you know during uncomfortable times you can really lean in on different individuals despite their role in different sectors or different places in our organization or things that they stand for,” Irving said. “And some people stood by me in public, some people stood by me in private and I’m OK with both. Some people disagree with me in public, some people disagree with me in private. It doesn’t really bother me as much as it did in the beginning of the season, because everything was just so new.”

The Philadelphia 76ers will take on the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the NBA playoffs, and defensive specialist Matisse Thybulle will be able to play in only the Sixers’ home games. Unvaccinated foreign nationals are currently prohibited from entering Canada, and Thybulle is not fully vaccinated. Limited exemptions to the rule no longer apply to professional athletes, and as such, coach Doc Rivers said Sunday that Thybulle would be “ineligible” for Games 3 and 4.

Thybulle, after the 76ers’ 118-106 victory over the Detroit Pistons Sunday, said he was raised in a “holistic household” and declined to become fully vaccinated. He said he did feel the need to get one shot last season but did not go through with any more, saying “I felt like I had a solid foundation of medical resources that could serve me beyond what this vaccine could do for me.” “It was not the outcome that I wanted,” he said. “It’s always hard to not be available.”

Al Horford, Jaylen Brown not vaccinated?

On a March 29 episode of TSN’s OverDrive, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated seemingly put all that uncertainty to rest, revealing that two of the four are, in fact, unvaccinated – Brown and Horford. (H/T ProCity Hoops) “The variable in all this is, who can play in Toronto? Like, the Celtics have some unvaccinated guys. My understanding is, Jaylen Brown is unvaccinated, Al Horford is unvaccinated. Now, that can still change. There’s still enough time left in the season where, if they decide to get the vaccine, they will be eligible to play in a postseason game in Toronto. But, the Celtics are not the Celtics without Jaylen or Al Horford, and I’m certain they don’t want to go up to Toronto in that situation.” Mannix stated that, according to his knowledge, neither Brown nor Horford is vaccinated. And while there is still time to change that, as of now, neither is eligible to play in Toronto.

He was unable to accompany his teammates to Canada for Thursday’s game against the Toronto Raptors at Scotiabank Arena because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19. But while many were surprised by his absence, this possible scenario is far from surprising to Thybulle and the Sixers. As of Jan. 15, players need to be fully vaccinated to the enter Canada. The Sixers had discussions about that keeping from playing in some games in potential playoff series with the Raptors. “We mentioned a lot of us benefit, me and [reserve swingman Fukan Korkmaz] probably benefit [from his absence], but it’s not about that,” Danny Green said. “We want to win. We know we’re better with you. We were just like, ‘We know we might play this team in the playoffs. So what do you think? You know we respect your values.‘”

When asked directly within the past 24 hours if their teams are fully vaccinated, both the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers declined to comment to ESPN — opening the possibility that both teams could potentially be missing players in road games of a first-round playoff series against the Toronto Raptors. Entering play Wednesday, the Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Celtics and 76ers are within one loss of each other at the top of the Eastern Conference standings, meaning they could wind up in any order between now and the end of the regular season on April 10.

Kyrie Irving: I'm standing for freedom; there's nobody that's enslaving me

“I’m standing for freedom,” Irving said. “So that’s in all facets of my life. There’s nobody that’s enslaving me, there’s nobody that’s telling me what I’m going to do with my life, and that’s just the way I am. If I get tarnished in terms of my image and people try to slander my name continuously, those aren’t things that I forget. I haven’t forgotten anything that anybody said. I don’t read everything, but I definitely read some things that put my family’s name in a certain position that I believe are unfair.

NYC mayor allows athletes unvaccinated for COVID-19 like Kyrie Irving to play home games

New York City’s mayor exempted athletes and performers from the city’s vaccine mandate following weeks of pressure from the sports world after the rule kept Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving from playing in home games and was expected to block several baseball players from taking the field in their upcoming season. Mayor Eric Adams, speaking at Citi Field where the Mets play, said Thursday that he had signed the order. The exemption was effective immediately.

Adams had said he felt the vaccine rule was unfair when it came to athletes and performers because a loophole in the measure, imposed under his predecessor, allowed visiting players and performers who don’t work in New York to still play or perform even if they are unvaccinated. Irving, a vaccine holdout, had been among the most high-profile people impacted. He was able to re-join the team in January but only when they played road games. When New York lifted rules several weeks ago requiring a vaccine to dine in a restaurant, work out at a gym or attend a performance, Irving was allowed to watch the Nets’ home games but not play or enter the locker room. The Nets need him as they push for a playoff spot with nine games left in their regular season.

NYC mayor: Nets, Knicks to wait for loosened COVID-19 vaccination restrictions

New York Mayor Eric Adams reiterated that while he remains optimistic about the COVID 19-related numbers he’s seeing, the city’s professional sports teams are going to have to wait their turn as far as potential vaccination-mandate rollbacks are concerned. “Right now, we’re going to take some complaints,” Adams said during a Tuesday morning news conference announcing that masks will be optional for day care students between the ages of 2 and 4 starting on April 4 if the COVID numbers hold. “But when this is all said and done, people are going to realize this is a thoughtful administration and we got it right. So baseball, basketball, businesses, all of those things, they have to wait until that layer comes.”

“We’re going to do it in the right way,” Adams said. “We’re going to follow the science … we’re going to make the right decision. And in New York, no matter what you do, this is 8.8 million people and 30 million opinions, so you’re never going to satisfy New Yorkers, so you must go with the logic, your heart and the science.” For Adams, that means he will continue to listen to his medical team and doesn’t sound likely to be swayed by any of the professional teams that might be impacted. The Yankees’ home opener is April 7, the NBA play-in tournament starts April 12 and the Mets’ home opener is April 15.

Kevin Durant on Kyrie Irving not being vaccinated: 'It's pretty obvious he's not going to take the shot'

Durant called out New York City Mayor Eric Adams by name after a March 13 win over the New York Knicks, on the same day Irving, who is not vaccinated against COVID-19, sat courtside at Barclays Center, but could not play in the game because of the city’s mandate. Durant acknowledged what many in the Nets organization have known for months, and that Irving himself has made clear since returning as a part-time player on Jan. 5 — he will not be getting the shot. “I mean, what is it, April almost?” Durant said. “It’s pretty obvious that he’s not going to take the shot. So like I said, just focus on who you are and what you bring to the team every day and once that situation gets figured out, then it will. It’s out of my control, it’s out of everybody else’s control. So you can’t force anybody to do anything. So just try to just focus on me.”

Kevin Durant says Kyrie Irving is “frustrated” that he still cannot play Nets home games because of New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, but also thinks Brooklyn’s championship window extends beyond this season regardless of when his star teammate returns on a fulltime basis. “He’s frustrated in not being able to play,” Durant said after Monday’s shootaround. “He figured this stuff would be rolled back by now, we’d be way past this. But it’s the situation we’re in, we got to deal with it, he’s got to deal with it. Trusting that it’ll get figured out there soon. I have no clue what may happen, but I’m just trusting that things will work itself out. But I’m sure he misses playing in front of a home crowd and the home crowd, vice versa, they miss him. So hopefully we get it figured out soon.”

Protestors rally behind Kyrie Irving against NYC vaccine mandate

Protestors rallied outside Barclays Center on Friday in support of Kyrie Irving. While it’s uncertain if any more demonstrations are planned when the Nets play host to the Jazz on Monday, or in the immediate future, it’s clear the situation continues to be divisive. The protestors held signs that read “Wake Up New York” and “Brooklyn Loves Kyrie.” Others ripped up Nets tickets along with photos of Mayor Eric Adams, angered that he hasn’t repealed private sector vaccine mandates that bar the All-Star from playing home games. Adams hasn’t offered any timetable and city health commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan was equally vague Friday. “I think it’s indefinite at this point,” Dr. Vasan said. “People who’ve tried to predict what’s going to happen in the future for this pandemic have repeatedly found egg on their face, as they say. I’m not going to do that here.”

Senator Ted Cruz: 'Let Kyrie Irving play'

The Hill: @SenTedCruz: “Let Kyrie Irving play. If Brooklyn won’t let Kyrie play, I’m going to make a pitch to you directly. Kyrie, come to Houston, play for the Rockets. We’ll let you play. He’s a hell of a player. Uncle Drew’s being benched by asinine Democratic theater. This is stupid.”

Kevin Durant clarifies comments directed to NYC Mayor Eric Adams

New Jersey residency does not exempt Kyrie Irving from vaccine mandate

Kyrie Irving’s out-of-town residency status does not exempt him from any New York City vaccine mandates, the Daily News has learned. An Adams administration official told The News that Irving, the Nets’ unvaccinated superstar guard, will still be covered by the city’s private employer vaccine mandate even when the Key2NYC requirement for indoor spaces is set to be lifted on March 7. He will not be able to play in games at Barclays Center or Madison Square Garden — unless he manages to get a religious or health exemption from the private employer mandate.

“Listen, I want Kyrie on the court. 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 with CNBC. “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.'”

The Daily News obtained a memo sent to NBA teams ahead of the start of the season. The spirit of that memo? NBA teams do not have the option to pay to break the law. “Pursuant to the local orders set forth above, if a player is on an impacted team, unvaccinated, and does not have an approved bona fide medical or religious exemption (the determination of which will be made by the league office), he will not be allowed to enter their home arenas or practice facilities in these jurisdictions or participate in any games, practices, or other team activities conducted there,” the memo read. Kyrie Irving is allowed to practice at the Nets’ Training Facility in Industry City because New York City deemed the building a private office space, subject to vaccine requirements set by ownership, not The City.

“I am really, really, leery about sending the wrong message. Having the city close down again keeps me up at night,” Adams told reporters at a conference. Of course, Adams’ comments were all in good fun — after all, the Nets are probably better off. The mayor has since changed his tune on COVID-19 from a few weeks ago … announcing he has a plan to end New York City’s vaccine mandate for indoor spaces like the Barclays Center — which, of course, is great news for Nets fans. Adams told reporters he “can’t wait” to get rid of the mandate — a far cry from his initial stance — and changes could happen “in the next few weeks.”

Referee Ken Mauer says he's out of the NBA because objection to COVID vaccine

Ken Mauer, one of the longest-tenured referees in NBA history, says he was forced out of the league at the beginning of the current season because of his religious objection to the COVID vaccines. During a wide-ranging, two-hour interview on “Fearless with Jason Whitlock,” Mauer, a 36-year veteran known for his slicked-back, Pat Riley-style hair, revealed the reason for his season-long absence.

“I’m not ashamed of what I’m doing,” Mauer said in the interview that will air early Tuesday evening. “In fact, I’m very proud of what I’m doing. I’m very proud of my faith. … I’m no different than the truck driver, than the schoolteacher, than the health care worker, than the person working construction or whatever. They either medically or religiously don’t feel ike taking the vaccine, and now they’re being forced to or else they’re going to lose their job. And I think that’s a shame.

Dave Early: “C’mon now puppeteers…there’s no guilt that I feel, I’m the only player that has to deal with this in NYC ‘because I play there. If I was anywhere else …then it probably wouldn’t be the same circumstances.” -Kyrie Irving on vax mandates.

Asked whether he felt Irving’s part-time status had an impact on Harden’s decision to push for a trade, Durant said, “I wouldn’t know.” “There’s obviously going to be rumors about that,” Durant said. “Kyrie has always been an easy scapegoat for everybody, especially for the media and the fans, they love to use him as a scapegoat for a lot of problems. So it’s easy to blame him, but I can’t speculate on how James is feeling. I know a lot of the media will put that on him.”

Nets GM hopeful Kyrie Irving will be able to play home games

General manager Sean Marks, whose sinking team executed the blockbuster trade of James Harden on Thursday, shortly before losing its 10th consecutive game, also sounds hopeful the unvaccinated Irving eventually will be able to participate in home games in Brooklyn.  “The decision on the [New York City] mandate, that’s obviously far above my pay grade and not something that I’m overly concerned about now,” Marks said Friday. “I mean, I think we’re always going to be optimistic.

“I just look around the world and I see things are changing, whether it’s the mask mandates, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and then you’ve got entire countries who are changing their outlook on Omicron and COVID and so forth. So again, far bigger discussion. My hope would be that by the time we roll around the playoffs, if not sooner, the world looks like a different place and the more people that are vaccinated and so forth and we’re moving on.” 
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