Mayor Eric Adams on Wednesday agreed with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver who said it “doesn’t quite make sense” that Nets star Kyrie Irving can’t play at Barclays Center while visiting players who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 can — but cautioned changing the rule might send “the wrong message.”
Following a press conference, Adams responded to a reporter’s question about NBA Commissioner Silver’s stance on the rule, saying, “I think it’s unfair.”
“First of all, I think the rule’s unfair. I believe that we are saying to out-of-town athletes that they can come in and not be vaccinated, yet New York athletes do have to be vaccinated,” Adams said Wednesday (Feb. 16).
However, the mayor added that he’s “really, really leery about sending the wrong message.”
“Having this city close down again keeps me up at night and the message was put in place, the rule was put in place… to start changing it now I think it would send mixed messages,” he explained. “I’m struggling with this, just to be honest with you.”
Adams inherited the rule after being sworn in as New York City’s new mayor earlier this year. The city’s “Key to NYC” program, launched last summer by Former Mayor Bill de Blasio, requires proof of vaccination against COVID-19 for entry into indoor restaurants, bars, movie theaters, sports venues and more.
Irving is barred from competing in home games at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center since he’s not vaccinated against the virus. However, athletes from other cities traveling to New York to compete are exempt from the rule, meaning they’re allowed to play at the venue without being vaccinated.
Adams’ comments on the mandate arrived after Silver questioned the rule on ESPN’s “Get Up.”
“This law in New York, the oddity of it to me is that it only applies to home players,” he said. “I think if ultimately that rule is about protecting people who are in the arena it just doesn’t quite make sense to me that an away player who is unvaccinated can play in Barclays but the home player can’t. To me, that’s a reason they should take a look at that ordinance.”
Silver’s comments come after the Nets’ general manager last week said he is “optimistic” the star guard will soon be permitted to play in home games.