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NBA

Nets' Kyrie Irving is eligible to play in the NBA All-Star game

With his name on the ballot for the All-star game and voting fast approaching, could it be that the fan favorite makes a surprise appearance?

Update:
Nets' Kyrie Irving is eligible to play in the NBA All-Star game
USA TODAY Sports

In an odd turn of events, the Nets' star just might be able to make an All-Star game appearance.

Could Kyrie Irving play in the NBA All-Star game?

It appears that there may some kind of light at the end of the tunnel for Kyrie Irving. As Voting for the NBA All-Star game approaches it seems that Irving could be among the selected players for said vote. If that is the case it could mean that the Nets star would make his first and possibly only appearance for the 2021 season. In a year which has seen all manner of twists in the Kyrie Irving saga it appears as though there may yet be one more, but an odd one none the less.

Irving who has inadvertently become one of the central faces of the 'anti-vax' movement has stood his ground as he continues to refuse to follow New York City's vaccination mandate which has resulted in him being barred from playing. The team for its part has tried all manner of approaches in an effort to bring Irving back into the fold, including education programs about the merits of vaccination. To date Irving has not budged.

How can Irving be elligible for the All-Star game?

NBA and Nets sources have confirmed that as Irving is still on the team's roster and more importantly not officially suspended, he can be voted into the team despite not having played a single minute this season. As strange an outcome as that may seem, the league has taken no step towards changing the unprecedented situation. In fact not since 1992 has a similar situation occurred when Magic Johnson was forced to retire from the NBA as a result of testing positive for HIV. Johnson would later be voted on to the All-Star team that season and actually went on to post 25 points with 9 assists, eventually being voted the game's MVP.

At present New York City's mandate prevents him from playing at Barclays Center or the Garden until he relents, something that seems unlikely to happen anytime soon. The Nets, have been surprisingly supportive while at the same time clear in that Irving was given two options. Return when he is "a full-fledged participant" by either getting vaccinated or as a result of the city lifting it's mandate. From the looks of it, neither is probable in the near future.

For more from the NBA

New York stands firm on the vaccine

For the moment it appears that Irving is not willing to change his mind. To add further context, the mayor of the city Eric Adams made it clear that there will be no changing of the rules. "New York City is not going to change its rule. Again, it's up to the NBA and Kyrie Irving to come to a full understanding on how to keep him on the Nets and keep looking at all of our athletes that come here. I'm a Nets fan ...and I love Kyrie. I think it is a piece that we need for a championship. This is something the NBA has agreed to. If they are going to perform in the city, it is an agreement that they have made. I think it's up to the NBA and Kyrie to get to an agreement on how they will overcome this. And I think they can come to a resolution, ”Adams said.

Doesn't the mandate affect Irving's eligibility?

The 71st NBA All Star will take place at the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland on February 20th. As such it is completely out of the jurisdiction of Nets and New York City. This city does not currently have a vaccination mandate in place which means Irving - should he be selected - is free to play.

As for the voting process itself, the league's new process calls for fans to make up 50 percent of the All Star votes, with the other half being split evenly between the media and players. Although Irving hasn't played this season yet, it is widely known that he is a long time fan favorite. What's more is that in recent times he has become an object of affection for far-right detractors of the vaccine push. While it's unclear if the new found relationship will result in mass amounts of votes as a declaration of anti-vax sentiment, the fact remains that with Irving's name on the ballot, there certainly is an opportunity to do so.

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