The Brooklyn Nets have been fined $50,000 for letting Kyrie Irving — who is unvaccinated — into the team locker room, which violated both New York City and NBA Covid protocols, the league announced on Monday.
The violation occurred during their game against the Knicks on Sunday at Barclays Center. The controversial guard has not been allowed to play any of the team’s games at Barclays this season because he is unvaccinated. Unvaccinated fans were not allowed into the arena until this week. Irving watched Sunday’s game from the team’s bench.
Irving was at the center of a Rolling Stone report about how anti-vaxxers were complicating league policy decisions prior to the season. The Nets initially left Irving off the team’s active roster, but announced in December that he would return to play road games.
Irving’s teammates have largely stayed silent about his status, but fellow Net Kevin Durant on Sunday took aim at New York Mayor Eric Adams. “I don’t get it, it just feels like at this point now, somebody’s trying to make a statement or a point to flex their authority,” he said. “But you know, everybody out here is looking for attention and that’s what I feel like the mayor wants right now, some attention.”
During NBA halftime commentary, ESPN personality Michael Wilbon blasted Durant, saying the former MVP is “too plugged in to say something that impertinent.”
“What’s the point of that ‘wants some attention?’ You wanna call somebody out, call out your teammate,” Wilbon said. “Tell him to get a shot ’cause he’s got plenty of them ’cause he couldn’t have gone to grade school in metropolitan New York without vaccines. I mean all these guys wanna be so irresponsible and not accountable enough to look at this dude, ‘So you wanna play with us? put a shot in your arm.’ The vaccine is not about attention. People died, hundreds of thousands of them from this virus and you think the mayor of New York needs to attend to a basketball teams needs, your needs, before he needs to attend to the needs of a metropolitan area, the biggest in America? Are you kidding me?”
Michael Wilbon just UNLOADED on Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant pic.twitter.com/ilBRk2YJX6
— Ben Brown 🌻 (@BenBrownPL) March 13, 2022
Durant released a statement clarifying his remarks on Monday. “The last two years have been a difficult and painful time for New Yorkers, as well as a very confusing time with the changing landscape of the rules and mandates,” he said, according to The Athletic‘s Shams Charania. “I do appreciate the task the Mayor has in front of him with all the city has been through. My frustration with this situation doesn’t change the fact that I will always be committed to helping the communities and cities I live in, and play in.”
Statement from Nets star Kevin Durant: “I do appreciate the task the Mayor has in front of him with all the city has been through.” pic.twitter.com/itL7WXag9r
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 14, 2022
Mayor Adams’ message to Irving was simple. “Kyrie can play tomorrow,” he said at an event on Sunday. “Get vaccinated.”