Is it too soon to use words like antiquated and archaic for a confounding COVID-rule that is still being enforced?

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving is unquestionably one of the most talented players in the NBA. But, because of his status as 'unvaccinated', he can only step on his home court at the Barclays Center in New York City as a fan, not as a player?

Of course, it was just a few weeks ago that being unvaccinated against COVID-19 meant you couldn't travel, you couldn't go to NYC restaurants, or attend an NBA game at, say, the Barclays Center or Madison Square Garden.

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But, Governor Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams relaxed or removed almost all regulations in recent weeks (and hopefully forever). In fact, I just heard an advertisement this week during the Nets radio broadcast that noted, as a selling point:

"...come to the Barclays Center this....as the Nets take on the....Proof of vaccinate is no longer required for attendance at the Barclays Center..."

Unless, you play for the home team and actually want to put on a jersey and play.

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That NYC regulation, still being enforced as of at least March 13, says players on the 'home' team are banned for playing in games in the Big Apple if they aren't vaccinated. Road players are fine regardless of vaccine status. So, Kyrie Irving purchased front row tickets for Saturday's ACC men's basketball championship game at Barclays. And, bought his own front row, courtside seat as his teammates defeated the Knicks at Barclays on Sunday afternoon (photos above and below).

For both games, his feet were firmly planted on the edge of the court. Which regulations say is perfectly fine.

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But, he's forbidden to play, be with the team, or even sit on the bench when they're at his home arena.

For almost all NBA road games, he's allowed to suit up and play.

There are two notable exceptions, however.

  • When the Nets play at MSG. As noted above, vaccine status for visiting players is irrelevant per NYC regs. Unless the visiting player also happens to live in the NYC-area; which Irving does, so he sits out those games, too. Again, he can buy a ticket and attend, he just can't play.
  • This other exception was highlighted during ABC's broadcast of the Knicks@Nets game Sunday. If the Nets have to play the Raptors in the opening round of the NBA Playoffs, Canadian restrictions will keep Kyrie sidelined as well.

Photo below: Kyrie Irving greets his Brooklyn Nets teammate Kevin Durant with a hug after the Nets defeated the New York Knicks at the Barclays Center on Sunday, March 13, 2022.

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