Saturday night in San Francisco, Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving played at Chase Center against the Golden State Warriors, and he did so without being vaccinated from COVID-19.
The city of San Francisco requires all attendees of Warriors’ games and Golden State players to be fully vaccinated in order to enter Chase Center. Much like the mandate in New York City, however, visiting players are exempt from the vaccine mandate. Irving, who is unable to play in Brooklyn home games due to New York City’s vaccine requirement, was eligible to play in San Francisco, which did not make San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney pleased.
“I don’t think he should have gotten the exemption,” Haney told The San Francisco Chronicle on Thursday. “We have a standard and it should apply to everyone. You’ve got bus drivers and firefighters being told they can’t come into work unless they are vaccinated.”
“Then you have basketball players playing by a different set of rules, and it breeds cynicism over what are clearly double standards,” Haney added. “If New York won’t let him play at home, I don’t see why San Francisco should let him play here.”
Visiting NBA players who are not vaccinated are required to test negative for COVID-19 before entering the arena, wear a mask at all times except for when playing, and are required to be six feet away from the public while in the arena.
“I think it sends the wrong message, and it puts him and people around him at risk. … This is not a decision I have any say over; the health officer can grant these exemptions,” Haney continued. “But small businesses are being held to this standard, so Chase Center should be held to the same standard.”
NBA.com writer Mar Medina asked Irving his thoughts on Haney’s stance, to which Irving said he is “entitled to his opinion.”
“I really don’t have a perspective, other than echoing what I said the other day,” Irving said. “Some people are going to agree. Some people are going to disagree. He’s entitled to his opinion, and I respect it.”
Irving did not play in a game during the 2021 season until January 5th, due to his refusal to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Irving will only be allowed to play in Brooklyn’s road games moving forward as he is unable to play at Barclays Center — home of the Nets — due to New York City’s vaccine mandate.
It’s been a season filled with one roadblock after another for Brooklyn, hit with injuries and COVID-19. Brooklyn star Kevin Durant suffered an MCL sprain in January, shelving him for 4-6 weeks.
Irving was asked if Durant’s injury would have an impact on his vaccination status moving forward, as his availability will be more important than ever as Durant attempts to recover from his injury.
“I’m not bringing science into the basketball,” Irving said. “Everyone’s feeling what’s going on in the real world. I’m walking around as an unvaccinated person. I’ve already been separated into another group of community. I’m just saying to everybody, I’m human. I have decisions to make, I have a family to take care of.”
“There are things that are just as important to me as being great at the game of basketball or leaving a legacy,” he added.
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.
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