Kyrie Irving Supporters Protest NBA Vaccine Mandate Outside Barclays Center

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Christine Beswick

Brooklyn Nets player Kyrie Irving says the choice to remain unvaccinated is "bigger than the game", reports the Washington Post. It was a choice that sent hundreds of protestors to Barclays Center in Brooklyn yesterday, and Irving to the bench.

It was an outcome he wasn’t expecting according to his comments on social media. On social media, Irving said the choice wasn’t political, and he thought that despite the choice he would still be able to play ball. He won’t be, until or unless he gets vaccinated.

Protestors holding “Let Kyrie Play” signs for Irving yesterday want him back on the court.

The Protest

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Barclay’s security took a "we don’t play that" position and told the New York Daily News “we shut that down fast.”

Some anti-vaccine protestors tried to get into the doors of Barclays. The game was the Nets’ home opener against the Charlotte Hornets. Some protestors pushed through the arena’s barricades, but none got into the arena. No arrests were reported, but the New York Daily News is reporting that the NYPD are not responding to requests for confirmation on that.

Signs that protesters held read “Stand With Kyrie” and “My body my choice.”

A spokesman for Barclays Center issued a statement saying, “Barclays Center briefly closed its doors today in order to clear protesters from the main doors on the plaza, and ensure guests could safely enter the arena. Only ticketed guests were able to enter the building and the game proceeded according to schedule.”

The Brooklyn Nets Position

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The Brooklyn Nets are falling back to the city on this one, saying the rules come from a city-wide mandate issued by Mayor Bill de Blasio in August. The order requires all members attending indoor events to be vaccinated. For both the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks that means the players need to be vaccinated, or could not play or practice at home.

Under this order alone, Irving would be permitted to play and practice at away games, but the Nets are still saying no. The Nets maintain that he can not play part-time, saying it would cause more problems than not having him at all.

The Nets may or may not have been anticipating the protest, but they did say earlier in October that Irving wouldn’t be permitted to play or practice at all until he was an eligible full-time participant.

The NBA

This is one NBA point where Irving’s seven-time All Star status and 2012 Rookie of the Year acclaim can not help him. He is reportedly in a small group of NBA players taking this position.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said that approximately 96 percent of NBA players have been vaccinated, and he expects that number to tick up. The position of New York City and the citywide ordinance is also a position taken in San Francisco for the Golden State Warriors.

Kyrie Irving’s Vaccine Issue

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Silver hopes Kyrie Irving gets vaccinated and hopes to see him play this season, saying he’d “love to see him play basketball this season…I’d love to see the Brooklyn Nets have their full complement of players on the floor.”

Kyrie Irving is staying mum on a specific issue pointing to his decision. He has said that it is not political, while one supporter reportedly close to Irving says he is standing in solidarity with people losing their jobs due to vaccine status, reports the New York Daily News.

The source claims he wants to be a voice for the voiceless. Protesters supporting Irving are following suit.

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