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NBA won’t let Nets play unvaccinated Kyrie Irving at home, accept fines

Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 12: Brooklyn Nets Guard Kyrie Irving (11) and Chicago Bulls Forward DeMar DeRozan (11) look on before checking into the game during a NBA game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Chicago Bulls on January 12, 2022 at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Nets could theoretically allow unvaccinated Kyrie Irving to play Brooklyn home games in defiance of New York City’s mandate.

The fines, as highlighted by Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, would top out at a relatively measly $5,000 per violation. For perspective, the Nets planned to pay Irving more than $35 million to play all their games this season. Isn’t an additional $5,000 per home game worth having the highly talented guard whose star teammates want him on the court and who makes the Nets a feared championship contender?

But the NBA won’t allow it.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The players’ union fought off a vaccine mandate from the league. This is effectively a workaround in places with their own vaccine requirements, no matter how tepidly those requirements are enforced. The NBA is forcing teams and players to follow the mandate, even if they’d prefer to accept the consequences of violating it.

Did the union approve of this stance? Then-National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts said the union hadn’t agreed to players getting their pay docked for missing games due to local vaccine mandates after the NBA announced their pay would be docked. Perhaps, the union could challenge this ruling, too.

For now, the clearest path to Irving playing home games is him getting a generally safe vaccine that has proven effective at reducing severe outcomes from and transmission of coronavirus.