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Mayor Adams: ‘I’d do anything to get that ring. So badly, I want it. But there’s so much at stake here’

In an interview with CNBC’s Jim Cramer and David Faber, Mayor Eric Adams said he wants an NBA ring for the city but that there are issues bigger than Kyrie Irving’s eligibility to play basketball in New York. He added that he has spoken with Nets owner Joe Tsai on the issue.

James Herbert of CBS Sports was first to post the video of the interview...

In short, the mayor offered little if any hope of a quick resolution to Irving’s situation, being banned from playing at Barclays Center — or Madison Square Garden — unless he gets vaccinated. The mayor announced Sunday that the vaccine for indoor venues will be lifted on March 7, but a separate mandate covering private employers remains in place. It requires all employees of companies with more than 100 employees, like BSE Global, the Nets parent company, to get vaccinated. Until that mandate is lifted, Irving can attend games and presumably sit on the bench but not play.

“Listen, I want Kyrie on the court,” the mayor told CNBC’s Squawk on the Street anchors. I would do anything to get that ring. So badly, I want it. But there’s so much at stake here. And I spoke with the owner of the team. We want to find a way to get Kyrie on the court, but this is a bigger issue.”

The mayor, who was inaugurated only 50 days ago, did not discuss specifics of his talks with Tsai. He did however offer a rationale for the decision to keep the private employer mandate ... and not carve out an exception for Irving. The Nets guard has twice said that his refusal to get vaccinated relates to mandates which he views as unfair.

“It would send the wrong message just to have an exception for one player when we’re telling countless number of New York City employees ‘If you don’t follow the rules, you won’t be able to be employed.’”

The city has already fired 1,430 city employees who refused to get vaccinated. Many more are waiting on their applications for exemptions on religious and medical grounds.

”Businesses have their vaccine mandate. City employees have their vaccine mandates. I have to follow the rules. And trust me, I want Kyrie on the court. We are here right now opening our city because of vaccine mandates. We can’t close down again. I can’t have my city close down again.”

As for the indoor venue rule that has permitted unvaccinated visitors to play but not those like Irving, Adams called it “ridiculous.”

“Makes no sense and I don’t know who thought to put such a ridiculous rule in place of away teams can come and play when our teams from New York but these are the rules and I have to follow the rules. If I don’t, I have to open the door to sending the wrong message to everyday employees.”

However, with the indoor vaccine mandate going away on March 7, that’s no longer an issue. Moreover, with 99 percent of all players who’ve worn an NBA uniform this season fully vaccinated, it’s basically been a moot point.

More than 66,000 New Yorkers have died in the past two years from COVID and nearly five million have been infected, more than half the city’s population.