The Nets have won six of their last seven and are in Memphis on Kyrie Irving’s 30th birthday but again it’s Irving’s vaccine status, not the team’s success nor any bash the Nets plan for him, that is in the news.
In what might be seen as competing narratives (from different perspectives), two ESPN writers on Wednesday offered separate and divergent takes on the prospects of Irving playing in more than two of Brooklyn’s next 10 games.
Adrian Wojnarowski, on both NBA Today and in a story with Jeff Passan, ESPN’s baseball writer, offered optimism Wednesday that the city may lift the private employer mandate that is keeping Irving off the court and could keep MLB stars on the Mets and Yankees off the field.
On NBA Today, Woj told that panel...
“What’s happening now with the mandate is that there are five-day increments to renew it. Thursday is an increment. Then, there’s another five days if they don’t renew it tomorrow.
I think there’s optimism that it is coming, that there’s a pathway for Kyrie Irving to play again with the Nets at home this season. but you heard Eric Adams, New York City’s mayor, yesterday say that the sports teams in New York, the Nets, Mets Yankees are going to have to wait their turn, but there’s optimism out there that they may not have to wait too much longer.”
Then, later in a tweet, Woj promoted an upcoming story with Passan...
Story filed to ESPN w/ @JeffPassan: Progress toward further changes to NYC’s private-sector vaccine mandate has inspired confidence that Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving could be back on court for home games in near future. Yankees and Mets players would be cleared before Opening Day too.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 23, 2022
But his colleague, Nets beat writer Nick Friedell, suggested otherwise in an interview with The Recount Alt, based on his conversations at City Hall...
ESPN's @NickFriedell says "all the optimism" that BK Nets players had that the NYC vaccine mandate would be rolled back is "gone right now."— The Recount Alt (@therecountalt) March 23, 2022
"I was in City Hall listening to Mayor Adams yesterday, and he's as rooted in his stance as Kyrie [Irving] is rooted into his own stance." pic.twitter.com/clTYznumFe
“All the optimism that the Nets had that vaccin4 mandate would be rolled back in next few weeks is gone right now.
“I was in City Hall listening to Mayor Adams yesterday, and he’s as rooted in his stance as Kyrie [Irving] is rooted into his own stance.
“So the Nets are in a holding pattern, they’re in a waiting game, but they thought this would already be done. But Mayor Adams made it clear that that’s not going to happen at least for the next couple of weeks...
Now, that hope that they had that Kyrie would be available for games at Barclays Center? That’s gone.”
Meanwhile, the Nets had a brief scare when the Mayor suggested at a press conference Wednesday afternoon that the private employer mandate might apply to HSS Training Center which would mean Irving couldn’t practice with his teammates as they fight for a playoff spot...
“If Kyrie Irving is practicing—I’m not at the sports facility—the attorneys can tell us if he could practice or not, if it’s a violation or not. I’ll speak with my attorney to find out if it is or isn’t.”— Matthew Chayes (@chayesmatthew) March 23, 2022
— @NYCMayor re unvaxxed @KyrieIrving practicing in Bk pic.twitter.com/HmGInPRitL
Two hours later, however, the mayor’s press spokesman clarified things with an email to reporters...
A spokesman for Adams, Fabien Levy, just called to say that Kyrie Irving *can* practice, under the administration’s interpretation of this, and past, orders relating to vaccination.— Matthew Chayes (@chayesmatthew) March 23, 2022
The game, vs. the Grizzlies, starts at 7:30. And happy birthday, Kyrie.