There's a chance an unvaccinated Kyrie Irving could still play for the Brooklyn Nets this season, but it would require New York to lift its COVID-19 vaccine mandate. If that happens, Nets coach Steve Nash would welcome Irving back to the club.
Nash made those comments following Eric Adams being elected as the new mayor of New York.
Steve Nash on the status of Kyrie Irving if mayor-elect Eric Adams lifts the New York City vaccine mandate:
"If the mandate changes, he'd be welcome back for sure" pic.twitter.com/RktJwZkS7a
— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) November 3, 2021
During his campaign, Adams expressed a desire to "revisit" vaccine mandates, according to MSNBC. Adams may have been referring to vaccination policies for police and firefighters, however, and not NBA players.
Adams getting elected does open the possibility of the COVID-19 vaccine mandate being altered in the city, and it's possible those changes could impact Irving's status. If a vaccine mandate is lifted for large public gatherings and Irving is suddenly eligible to play, Nash would gladly take him back.
Nash admitted he might be "speaking out of turn" when giving his answer. Nets owner Joe Tsai said he would like Irving to be vaccinated, but added the important caveat, "If the New York mandate is still in place." That leaves open the possibility for Tsai to change his mind if the mandate is lifted.
Will New York lift its COVID-19 mandates?
A lot would have to go right for this to work out in Irving's favor. While Adams won the mayoral race Tuesday, he won't take office until January. Assuming current Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to keep COVID-19 protocols in place during the rest of his term, January would be the absolute earliest Adams could lift those mandates.
If Adams does lift those mandates, there's no guarantee they will apply to Irving. Adams could opt to only focus on police and firefighters while keeping the public mandate in place. It's also possible Adams will alter his stance depending on COVID-19 rates between now and when he takes office. If the numbers rise over the holidays, Adams may no longer want to "revisit" those mandates.
Irving could wait until January to see what happens once Adams takes office. Until then, Irving will need to take the COVID-19 vaccine if he wants to return to the Nets.