NYC vaccine mandate changes could have major impact on Kyrie Irving and Nets

Kyrie Irving hasn't been able to play home games for the Brooklyn Nets all season due to his decision to remain unvaccinated against COVID-19. However, an announcement from the New York City mayor's office could change that, just in time for the Nets to make a big push for the playoffs.

During a media conference on Wednesday, NYC mayor Eric Adams said that he hopes to phase out the city's vaccine mandates in the coming weeks, following the lead of cities like Boston and Washington, DC.

Currently in NYC, you must show proof that you've received at least two doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to enter indoor spaces like restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, and sports venues. That rule has prevented Irving from playing home games all season.

Initially, the Nets didn't allow the unvaccinated Irving to play any games at all. They didn't want him playing just part time, but reversed that decision in mid December. After missing the first 35 games of the season, Irving made his season debut in January.

Adams made it clear that he will be meeting with his public health advisors constantly, and will follow the science to make informed decisions about phasing out the COVID-19 regulations. Though there aren't any firm dates in play yet, Adams left no doubt that he wants to get the process going as soon as possible.

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 10: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets gestures during the second quarter against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena on February 10, 2022 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Nets star Kyrie Irving could start playing home games soon if NYC removes their vaccine mandates. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Nets' fortunes could be changing

The Nets are currently in 8th place in the Eastern Conference with a 28-31 record. That makes them eligible for a play-in spot, but their aspirations are clearly higher than that. When the season began, with their Big Three of Irving, Kevin Durant, and James Harden installed, they were dreaming of first place. But between Irving's part-time status due to his refusal to get vaccinated, Durant's knee injury, and Harden's growing unhappiness, the Nets have been on a downward trajectory.

But things could be changing. Harden's been shipped out to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Ben Simmons. And according to Nets Daily, GM Sean Marks recently said in a meeting with season ticket holders that Simmons and Durant could be back in a week or so. If Irving can also rejoin the team, the Nets could be on the upswing.