Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant called out New York Mayor Eric Adams over rules that allow teammate Kyrie Irving to enter the Barclay Center where the Nets play their home games but forbid him from playing basketball.
Irving is not vaccinated against the coronavirus. For that reason, the Nets had sidelined him at the start of the NBA season, but the team brought him back in January.
New York City lifted many of its COVID-19 restrictions on March 7. That meant that Irving could finally enter the arena where the Nets play after being banned from home games.
However, because the city still has an order in place barring unvaccinated people from private-sector workplaces, the best the 29-year-old point guard can do is watch the team play.
Afterward, Durant ranted about the rules.
“I don’t understand it at all. … They lifted all that in our arena, right?” the 12-time All-Star said in his postgame news conference. “So I don’t get it.”
“It just feels like that this point, somebody’s trying to make a statement or a point to flex their authority,” he said.
🎥 Kevin Durant sounds off on NYC Mayor Eric Adams and the vaccine mandate pic.twitter.com/WNIEwJDfDv
— New York Post (@nypost) March 13, 2022
Durant said Adams needs to find a better solution.
“Everybody out here is looking for attention, and that’s what I feel the mayor wants right now, some attention,” he said. “But he’ll figure it out soon. He better. But it just didn’t make any sense.”
The NBA star noted that under the new rules, there are “unvaxxed people in the building already, we got a guy who can come into our building, I guess. Are they fearing our safety?”
His bottom line was that the dissonance in the rules needs to be fixed.
“We’re all confused. Pretty much everybody in the world is confused at this point,” Durant said.
“Early on in the season, people didn’t understand what was going on, but now, it just looks stupid. So hopefully, Eric, you gotta figure this out,” he said.
In February, the mayor said he wished he could change the rules for Irving but he would not.
“Listen, I want Kyrie on the court, you know. I would do anything to get that ring. So badly, I want it. But there’s so much at stake here. And, you know, I spoke with the owner of the team. We want to find a way to get Kyrie on the court, but this is a bigger issue,” Adams said then in a CNBC interview.
Should Kyrie Irving be allowed to play in Brooklyn?
“It would send the wrong message just to have an exception for one player when we’re telling countless number of New York City employees, ‘If you don’t follow the rules, you won’t be able to be employed,’” he said.
“Businesses have their vaccine mandate. City employees have their vaccine mandates,” Adams said. “I have to follow the rules. And trust me, I want Kyrie on the court. We are here right now opening our city because of vaccine mandates. We can’t close down again. I can’t have my city close down again.”
here’s Eric Adams on Kyrie on CNBC:
“It would send the wrong message just to have an exception for one player when we’re telling countless number of New York City employees ‘If you don’t follow the rules, we won’t be able to be employed.’” pic.twitter.com/N8dbv094SR
— James Herbert (@outsidethenba) February 28, 2022
The mayor called it “ridiculous” that visiting teams could have unvaccinated players take the court.
“Makes no sense, and I don’t know who thought to put such a ridiculous rule in place of away teams can come and play when our teams from New York, but these are the rules and I have to follow the rules. If I don’t, I have to open the door to sending the wrong message to everyday employees,” he said.
As noted by CBS News, in September, then-Mayor Bill de Blasio defended the loophole, saying, “There is a recognition that if someone comes through briefly, it’s a different reality than someone who works regularly in a location.”