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Mike Lupica, Mike Vaccaro, etc. wonder if ‘Kyrie carve-out’ is worth it

Brooklyn Nets v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images

In columns over the last three days, two of the city’s most respected sports columnists took to the keyboard to give their opinions on Mayor Eric Adams’ decision to let Kyrie Irving play in the city. Mike Lupica of the Daily News and Mike Vaccaro of the Post addressed the situation from different perspectives, but both were not fans of the move.

Lupica, writing Saturday, thinks the mayor rewarded Irving (and the unvaccinated Mets and Yankees) for “bad behavior.”

Kyrie gets to play home games now, despite his unchanged chuckle-hut stance on vaccines. He gets to play everywhere except Canada, which could be a problem if the Nets end up in a play-in opener against the Raptors.

This is all because Adams, who told Irving that if he wanted to play he needed to get jabbed until he didn’t, decided to be the one to send Kyrie — the new Doc for the Nets because he knows so, so much about science — into the game, along with the other high-profile, un-vaxxed players with the Yankees and with the Mets. Those baseball players also get rewarded for bad behavior.

Lupica also disputes the mayor’s justification for changing the mandate, that he and other pro athletes and entertainers are part of the fabric of the city and they played essential roles in helping the city and its economy recover from the pandemic.

Adams treats Irving like some sort of essential New Yorker here. Except that he’s not. Before Adams’ flip flop, Kyrie was in the process of stubbornly and selfishly and even arrogantly ruining his team’s shot at a title before Mayor Adams stepped in. This is a guy who ran for the office acting like he was different from other politicians. Not so much, as it turns out.

Vaccaro’s big issue, something Lupica also touches on, is that Irving gets to play, make millions and enjoy the accolades of thousands, while those city workers who declined the vaccine, lost their jobs. He wrote Thursday...

You can read and wonder about what that means to the cops, the firefighters and the other city workers who took similar stands these past few months, those who lost their jobs, those who now see multimillionaire entertainers and athletes spared a similar burden. The debate over their fates, and their futures, is just as important.

In truth, it’s more important.

Both Mikes think that that Irving needs to pay back the city with nothing less than a championship parade in June. It would be the city’s first since 2009 among the city’s four major sports and the first NBA title since 1973. Writes Lupica...

Now let’s see if he can help the Nets win, if the Nets can do what Kyrie and Kevin Durant came here to do, which means win an NBA championship, win the first NBA title in New York City in almost 50 years exactly...

All we know for sure now is that Kyrie Irving, the would-be basketball prince of the city, gets to stop being a temp and goes back to being a full-time player. Maybe now he could go win some damn games, after the mayor gives him and his team the biggest assist of their season.

And Vaccaro...

As far as New York sports is concerned, however, as long as we keep the context strictly between the foul lines and the base lines, this will be a game-changer. The Nets may still be a piece or two shy of making a sustained championship run, but they also now know they will have two of the game’s 20 best players — Irving and Kevin Durant — on their side as they enter the postseason. And that’s an awfully good place to be.

Other writers are posting their thoughts as well. Barbara Barker of Newsday stated Thursday that Irving “out-stubborned them all — the Nets’ front office, two mayors and almost every public health official on the planet.”

And Martenzie Johnson, senior writer for Andscape (the renamed The Undefeated), slammed Irving for his refusal, contending among other things that Irving loves the attention, the notoriety...

It’s Irving who makes spectacles of rudimentary things — burning sage to cleanse the court at the Boston Celtics’ arena caused by Irving’s very own bad vibes. It was Irving who got on Instagram Live last fall and rambled on for 20 minutes about how he doesn’t understand how he’s become the main character of his own movie, even though he’s the one who didn’t get the shot when nearly every player in the league has. And it’s Irving who, when asked about his culpability in his inability to play in home games, responded that “there’s no guilt that I feel.”

That’s the anti-vaccination creed: Center yourself as the victim while accepting no personal responsibility.

Johnson also adds that “due to the concessions New York City has made over the past few weeks, we currently live in a society that prioritizes convenience over public safety.”

There will be others no doubt who will opine on Irving’s situation but at the end of the day, he’s playing. Everyone has to live with that.