Kyrie’s Back!: How MLB Unexpectedly Paved the Way for Kyrie Irving’s Return to Brooklyn Nets Home Games

Kyrie Irving will be able to play in the Barclays Center again now that New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate has been lifted.

On Thursday, the change went into effect, ending a saga in New York City that kept Irving off the hardwood in Brooklyn. The move is debatable for many reasons, many of which tie to Opening Day of the Major League Baseball season, which happens on April 7.

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According to reports, many New York Mets and Yankees players are unvaccinated. Due to the MLB lockout, the original Opening Day planned for March 31 also had to be rolled back to April 7.

From Lockouts To Mandate Lifts

The lockout potentially compromised the MLB’s intended regular-season calendar games, and coupled with the vaccination challenges; the league needed the mandate lifted more than any other sports organization.

According to reports, lobbyists were utilized by the Nets, specifically The Parkside Group, “a campaign management firm in New York.” Additionally, Mets owner Steve Cohen was a reported donor to a political action group that backed current NYC Mayor Eric Adams.

“Hometown players had an unfair disadvantage to those who were coming to visit,” said Adams on Thursday when he formally announced the executive order exempting New York City-based professional athletes and performers from the private sector COVID vaccine mandate.

“It’s unimaginable — treating our performers differently because they lived and played for home teams. Unacceptable. It’s a self-imposed competitive disadvantage.”

The Kyrie Irving Effect

However, with Kyrie practically on a media island of his own as the biggest story in unvaccinated professional athletes, the timing and the quasi-lobbying have opened the door for Irving’s return to home court.

Back in October, Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks announced Irving’s lack of compliance with the COVID-19 vaccine mandate under out-going Mayor Bill DiBlasio gave the team “no choice” but to stop him from playing and practicing.

“I understood their decision and respected it,” Irving said back in October 2021. “I really had to sit back and think and try not to become too emotionally attached to what they were deciding to do. I had to really evaluate things and see it from their perspective, meaning the organization, my teammates.

“I really empathized and I understood their choice to say if you are not going to be fully vaccinated, then you can’t be a full [participant].”

To read more about Kyrie Irving and his return to the Nets as a full-time unvaccinated NBA player, click here.

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