Bulls Insider

Can Kyrie play in Chicago? Why vax status isn't factor

Bulls Insider

Kyrie Irving has been in headlines for months for his decision to not receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

That decision has inhibited him from playing in Brooklyn Nets home games because of New York City's vaccine mandate — a lead the city of Chicago followed beginning on Jan. 3.

But because non-resident professional athletes are exempt from Chicago's vaccine mandate for entertainment and recreation venues, Irving will be eligible to be in the house — and play — when the Nets visit the United Center for a marquee matchup with the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday.

"If you're on a team from another city, you don't have to show proof of vaccination to get into the venue," Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a news conference on Dec. 21.

Irving has appeared in two road games against the Pacers and Trail Blazers since the Nets welcomed him back as a part-time player. In those games, he is averaging 22 points and four assists while shooting 47.4 percent.

A mildly sprained ankle sustained in the Portland game has Irving listed as questionable for Wednesday's game, though he has said he plans to play. Co-star James Harden is also questionable with left knee hyperextension.

If they play, the Nets will have their full "three-headed monster" for the third matchup of the season between the Eastern Conference's top two teams. The Bulls have already clinched the season series by winning the first two games — one in Chicago, one in Brooklyn — and carry a 2.5-game lead for the East's top seed into Wednesday's bout.

 

"Complete dynamic three-headed monster team that they are," DeMar DeRozan said when asked what Irving playing alongside Harden and Kevin Durant does for the Nets. "Having those guys, having Kyrie, one of the most dominant point guards in this league coming back, it's good for the game. I'm pretty sure it's great for Brooklyn. We love to see them full strength. Hopefully, (Wednesday) we get that opportunity."

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