Kyrie Irving sits courtside for Nets-Knicks in Brooklyn

Kyrie Irving sits courtside for Nets-Knicks in Brooklyn

Kyrie Irving lastly made his Barclays Center season debut Sunday.

He simply didn’t get to play.

New York City’s relaxed indoor vaccine mandates could have loosened sufficient to permit the unvaccinated Irving within the constructing, however the non-public sector mandates nonetheless hold him from enjoying at residence for the Nets.

The unprecedented scenario led to a weird Kafka-esque scene, with Irving making a fashionably late arrival to this nationally televised conflict with the rival Knicks and sitting in his courtside seats watching his Brooklyn teammates play.

The incontrovertible fact that it got here only a couple hours after Mayor Eric Adams prodded the All-Star guard to get vaccinated simply added to the surreal scenario.

In some of the dramatic mid-game entrances at Barclays Center since Kevin Durant was (briefly) cleared from protocols to examine right into a recreation final season — or Prince William and Kate’s second-half arrival to observe LeBron James in 2014 — Irving got here by means of the customer’s tunnel clad in a protracted off-white peacoat with black lettering.

Kyrie Irving fist-bumps a fan while walking to his courtside seats at Barclays Center on Sunday, March 13, 2022.
Kyrie Irving fist-bumps a fan whereas strolling to his courtside seats.
Robert Sabo/New York Post

With cameras following his each stride, Irving made his approach by means of the gang, stopping each few ft to shake arms, give hugs and dap up Nets followers as the gang roared its approval.

He ultimately made his approach courtside, speaking with workforce proprietor Joe Tsai. At one level Tsai appeared to step to the aspect — maybe to let the nationwide tv cameras get a transparent shot at his star participant — earlier than the purpose guard ultimately took his seat to observe the remainder of the competition.

Kyrie Irving chats with Nets owner Joe Tsai during the Nets' game against the Knicks at Barclays Center.
Kyrie Irving chats with Nets proprietor Joe Tsai.
Robert Sabo/New York Post

A 110-107 Nets victory he may solely observe from ft away, like a fan.

Asked if he’d gotten any clarification as to why Irving can attend video games however not play, Brooklyn coach Steve Nash replied “No.”

When Nash was requested if it made sense to him, he demurred. “You know, I’m just going to stay out of it,” he mentioned. “I don’t want to wade into an area that I’m not an expert in.”

Kyrie Irving looks on from his courtside seats during the Nets' game against the Knicks.
Kyrie Irving appears to be like on from his courtside seats in the course of the Nets’ recreation towards the Knicks.
Robert Sabo/New York Post

A City Hall supply instructed The Post that the non-public sector worker mandate applies to nearly each non-public companies within the metropolis, small or massive. While the non-public sector mandate does have the identical non-resident athlete exception as Key2NYC (the not too long ago repealed indoor venue mandate), that solely applies to athletes enjoying for visiting groups, not native squads.

Hence, regardless of Irving technically being a West Orange, N.J., resident, as a result of he’s employed by Brooklyn — a New York City workforce — he’s nonetheless lined no matter the place he lives. So he was free to come back to Barclays Center on Sunday as a fan, simply not as an worker. That’s why he sat in his courtside seat, as an alternative of on the bench.

As of now, because the Nets even have a highway recreation towards the Knicks on the Garden, Irving is simply eligible for 4 of the 14 remaining regular-season video games.

Of course, there’s a easy resolution to that problem.

As one Brooklyn fan heckled Adams at a Sunday morning press convention about Irving not having the ability to play at residence, Adams — a Nets fan — provided a easy response on-brand with the town’s considering.

“And you’re right, son. You’re right. Thank you. Listen, you’re right. Kyrie can play tomorrow: Get vaccinated,” Adams mentioned, with a chuckle and a thumbs-up. “Go ahead. I love New York and hecklers. I come out of City Hall and people are outside protesting, and I said ‘Wow, it’s great to be in New York.’ ”

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