The New York City vaccine mandate has been a thorn in the Brooklyn Nets‘ side all season, keeping Kyrie Irving from playing in the city this season. Former NBA player Gilbert Arenas, on his podcast, joked that New York City Mayor Eric Adams is a New York Knicks fan, which is why the confusing mandate has stayed intact.
The mandate requires that everyone who wants to return to their workplace in the city has to be vaccinated. This law makes it illegal for Irving to play for the Nets in home games or against the Knicks in Madison Square Garden. However, he can practice with the team and attend games in either venue as a ticket-purchasing spectator.
Mayor Adams has stood firm on the issue, despite public outcry and even the NBA saying the law does not make sense.
On Arenas’s podcast, “No Chill with Gilbert Arenas,” the three-time All-Star joked about Mayor Adam’s allegiance to the Knicks as to why he has not lifted the vaccine mandate. At the 9:40 mark, Arenas said:
“Is the Mayor a Knicks fan or a Nets fan? … At this point, he’s older. Probably, he’s from New York. He’s a Knicks fan, so I’m pretty sure he’s not going to lift that until he has to.”
The Knicks (30-41) are realistically out of getting into the playoffs or a play-in spot. They sit five games behind the 10th-place Atlanta Hawks (35-36) in the Eastern Conference. With just 10 games left, it seems like too big of a mountain to climb.
Mayor Adams was born in Brooklyn in 1960. However, after being the New York Nets (mostly in the ABA), the Nets played as the New Jersey Nets for most of Adams’ life. They moved to Brooklyn in 2012.
Adams rose from the New York City police ranks before running for mayor in 2021 and winning the election. Adams is likely a Knicks fan, staying in New York for most of his life. It is unlikely that his fandom has affected this law.
Will New York City’s vaccine mandate change before the NBA playoffs?
For the Nets to make the NBA Finals, they likely will need Kyrie Irving for 100% of the games. That won’t happen unless and until the mandate is changed. Mayor Adams has been adamant about not changing the law. He’s said Irving should get the COVID-19 vaccine in order to play.
However, with COVID-19 cases decreasing in New York City, Adams has started to lift some mask and vaccine mandates. People can now dine indoors without proof of vaccination, and children in school are no longer required to wear masks.
The next step would be to recall or change the vaccine mandate law. On top of that, with the Major League Baseball season around the corner, Adams is now under pressure from both the New York Yankees and Mets to adjust the mandate.