In the words of Kevin Durant, “Eric, you got to figure this out.”
That would be a reference to New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who has said he will not give an exemption to Brooklyn point guard Kyrie Irving for the private sector vaccine mandate, allowing him to play in Nets’ home games.
For the sake of the game, the NBA and its fans would sure appreciate it.
On Tuesday night, Irving went ballistic in Orlando, scoring 60 points in 35 minutes as the Nets blew out the Magic 150-108.
“He’s just incredible,” Nets coach Steve Nash said. “I felt like he had my career highlight reel in the first 12 minutes of the game. It’s special to watch him every night — but it’s special to watch him on nights like this, where he’s in total control, total command. He gets wherever he wants and is able to finish amongst the trees. It’s just a pleasure to see it up close and to be a part of it.”
The 60 points is a Brooklyn franchise record, surpassing Deron Williams’ 57 points in 2012.
“When you’re a kid scoring a bunch of points it means something. But when you’re in the best league in the world, doing it against the greatest athletes … it means a little more and that competition level just comes out of me,” Irving said after the game, according to the New York Post “The team I have in that locker room, they just really give me that energy. And the only time I get a chance to play on the road I better come out and give everything I have.”
It was an incredibly efficient performance for Irving, shooting 20-31 from the field, 8-12 from beyond the arc, and 12-13 from the free throw line. Irving added four assists, six rebounds, and four steals on the night. Irving had 41 in the first half, and exited the game with 8:32 left in the fourth quarter.
The 60-point game by Irving comes one day after Karl Anthony-Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves hit the 60-point mark, and two days after Durant poured in 53 points of his own, making it the first time that teammates have scored 50+ points in back-to-back games in NBA history.
On Sunday, Kevin Durant scored 53 points.
Tonight, Kyrie Irving is at 51 (and counting).
They're the first teammates in NBA history to score 50+ points in consecutive games. pic.twitter.com/8Ee6nfcMOh
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 16, 2022
“I was just really grateful. There’s nothing but gratitude in my heart when I get a chance to perform and do what I do,” Irving said according to the Post. “If anything, missing time this season has taught me just to put things in perspective and not take anything in life for granted.”
“Things that I love have been taken away from me and I’ve had to deal with it, just like everyone else. … So as you walk with faith then you know that there are going to be uncomfortable times and you just can’t have fear; and just be led by that, the energy of God and just let everything else fall into place,” he continued.
It’s been a wild year for Irving, who has played in just 19 of Brooklyn’s 69 games this season due to New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
On Sunday, Irving attended his first game of the season at Barclays Center as a fan, following the end of NYC’s public sector vaccine mandate in February. The private sector vaccine mandate is still in place, however, meaning Irving is ineligible to play at either Barclays Center or Madison Square Garden, home of the New York Knicks. With Irving in attendance, Durant put on an absolute show, and had some words for the mayor of New York following the game.
“It’s ridiculous,” Durant said, according to ESPN. “I don’t understand it at all. There’s a few people in our arena that’s unvaxxed, right? They lifted all of that in our arena, right? So I don’t get it … I don’t get it. It just feels like at this point now, somebody’s trying to make a statement or a point to flex their authority. But everybody out here is looking for attention and that’s what I feel like the mayor wants right now, is some attention. But he’ll figure it out soon. He better.”
“But it just didn’t make any sense,” Durant continued. “There’s unvaxxed people in this building already. We got a guy who can come in the building, I guess, are they fearing our safety? I don’t get it. We’re all confused. Pretty much everybody in the world is confused at this point. Early on in the season people didn’t understand what was going on, but now it just looks stupid. So hopefully, Eric, you got to figure this out.”
On Monday, the Nets released a statement from Durant, clarifying his remarks.
“The last two years have been a difficult and painful time for New Yorkers, as well as a very confusing time with the changing landscape of the rules and mandates,” Durant said, according to NetsDaily. “I do appreciate the task the Mayor has in front of him with all the city has been through. My frustration with the situation doesn’t change the fact that I will always be committed to helping the communities and cities I live in, and play in.”
Also on Monday, the NBA announced that the Nets had been fined $50,000 for allowing Irving into the locker room during Saturday afternoon’s game.
“The Brooklyn Nets organization has been fined $50,000 for violating local New York City law and league health and safety protocols during the team’s March 13th game against the New York Knicks at Barclays Center, the NBA announced today,” NBA communications said in a statement. “The violation occurred when the Nets permitted Kyrie Irving, who was in attendance at the game, to enter the team’s locker room.”
According to ESPN, the locker room is considered part of the “workplace environment,” thus subject to the local NYC private sector vaccine mandate.
Brooklyn heads back to Brooklyn for a three-game home-stand, all games in which Irving will be ineligible to play.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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