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Kevin Durant calls on NYC Mayor Eric Adams to change vaccine policy to allow Kyrie Irving to play

Yahoo Sports US logo Yahoo Sports US 3/13/2022 Sam Cooper

Kyrie Irving sat courtside to watch his Brooklyn Nets teammates beat the New York Knicks on Sunday at Barclays Center in New York City.

While Kevin Durant scored 53 points in the 110-107 win, Irving watched from the stands in street clothes. Durant scored Brooklyn's final seven points including a 3-pointer with 56.3 seconds remaining that gave the Nets the lead for good at 106-103.

Durant calls out NYC Mayor Eric Adams

After the game, Durant said that he was "confused" about why Irving can't play and called on New York City Mayor Eric Adams to change the city's vaccine policy.

"It's ridiculous," Durant said of Irving's situation. ... "I don't get it. It just feels like at this point now somebody's trying to make a statement or a point to flex their authority. 

"Everybody out here's looking for attention. That's what I feel the mayor wants right now, is some attention. But he'll figure it out soon, he better."

In case there was any confusion, Durant called Adams out by name.

 "Are they fearing our safety? I don't get it," Durant continued. "We're all confused. Everybody in the world is confused at this point. Early on in the season, people didn't understand what was going on. But now, it just looks stupid. Hopefully, Eric, you gotta figure this out. 

Why Irving can't play

Irving, a star guard for the Nets, remains unable to play with his team on their home court because he is unvaccinated. Irving can play in most road games but is ineligible to play in games in New York City — at Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden — because of the city’s private sector vaccine mandate.


Video: Kevin Durant calls out NYC mayor over Kyrie Irving’s nonsensical ban (SMG)

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However, like other unvaccinated individuals, Irving is now permitted to attend the game and do so without wearing a mask. He was on hand for the ACC championship game between Duke and Virginia Tech at Barclays Center on Saturday night and returned to the arena for Sunday’s matinee between the Nets and Knicks. 

Irving was not permitted in the bench area with his teammates, but sat in seats he purchased, according to the ABC broadcast. He arrived at his seats late in the second quarter.

Here he is on Sunday.

And here’s Irving in the crowd for the Duke vs. Virginia Tech game on Saturday night.

Adams made a public appearance earlier Sunday and faced some heckling about Irving’s situation. The mayor’s response was simple.

“Listen. You’re right. Kyrie can play tomorrow. Get vaccinated,” Adams said.

Kyrie Irving unable to play in 11 of Nets final 15 games

The Nets entered Sunday’s game with a 34-33 record and in the No. 8 spot in the Eastern Conference standings. With Irving in the lineup, the Nets trounced the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday in arguably their best game of the season.

However, under the current vaccine rules (and as long as Irving sticks with his refusal to receive the COVID-19 vaccine), Irving will be unable to play in 11 of the Nets’ final 15 regular season games, including Sunday's game vs. the Knicks.

Of those 15 games, 10 will be played at home and one of the road games is against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. For a team fighting for playoff positioning, it’s a significant issue.

On top of that, if the season ended today, the Nets would face the No. 7 seed Toronto Raptors in the play-in tournament. Irving would not be permitted to play in any of those games because of the vaccine mandate in Canada.

Kyrie Irving, right, sat courtside to watch his Brooklyn Nets teammates take on the New York Knicks on Sunday at Barclays Center in New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) © Provided by Yahoo! Sports Kyrie Irving, right, sat courtside to watch his Brooklyn Nets teammates take on the New York Knicks on Sunday at Barclays Center in New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
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