CultureSaturday 02.26.22

At This Point, It’s Just Petty To Keep Kyrie Irving on the Sidelines

The sports world seems about ready to move on from the pandemic. Last week, NBA commissioner Adam Silver openly questioned New York City’s vaccine mandate, which requires that any employee of a local business participating in public indoor activities (yes, that means basketball) show proof of vaccination.

The mandate has kept Brooklyn Nets star point guard Kyrie Irving from playing in home games, even though visiting players aren’t subject to the same restriction given they have a different employer.

Plus, as Will points out, Irving himself is continuously tested for the infectious disease, making him quite possibly the safest player jumping into the bump and grind. So at this point, keeping Irving off his home court could just be a punitive exercise. “Do we care about making Kyrie Irving eat it for not getting the shot that we all think he should have got, or do we care about keeping people safe?”

Will also lays out the significance of a respected figure like Adam Silver – who has worked to keep the NBA going while also trying to ensure player and fan safety – casting doubt on a confusing mandate that few people challenged when the Omicron variant surged.

At the same time, as LZ suggests, no one “wants to be the league that is the poster child for an outbreak.” Whether sports organizers paint their new protocols as a return to normalcy or not, they have to spell out exactly what that looks like.

But now that cases are dropping significantly and the country adopts fewer pandemic-related restrictions, we may be reaching a tipping point for the sport that begins with a tip-off — and other sports too.

The Long Game