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NBA Commissioner Adam Silver thinks NYC vaccine mandate is senseless

NBA commissioner Adam Silver believes that the New York City mandate preventing Brooklyn Nets' Kyrie Irving from playing, simply doesn't make sense.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver believes that the New York City mandate preventing Brooklyn Nets' Kyrie Irving from playing, simply doesn't make sense.

The debate surrounding the ongoing unavailability - for home games - of Kyrie Irving has now taken yet another turn, with NBA commissioner Adam Silver questioning whether or not it should even be the case.

NBA's Adam Silver questions vaccination mandate.

According to reports on Wednesday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the New York City vaccination mandate that prohibits Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving from playing in home games "doesn't quite make sense to me." Silver was of course referring to Irving being barred from playing at the Barclays Center due to his unvaccinated status which runs counter to the mandate. To add further weight to his doubt, it is understood that a player from a different market who is unvaccinated may play in New York City.

"This law in New York, the oddity of it to me is that it only applies to home players," Silver 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 went on to add that the league did in fact try to make vaccinations a universal requirement for players, however, the National Basketball Players Association blocked the effort. At present the NBA boasts a vaccination rate of 98% with the "vast majority" of those individuals having received their booster.

Silver hopes for change, but NYC's Mayor can't move just yet

As he went further with his thoughts, Silver spoke of firsthand accounts in New York City - where the NBA's offices are based - of restrictions being being removed and the effect it was having on the city itself. Referring to a different "feel," Silver explained that there was definitely more activity being witnessed in the streets with an increasing number of citizens out and about. "So while, again, my personal view is people should get vaccinated and boosted, I can imagine a scenario where Brooklyn, as part of New York City, with a new mayor now who wasn't in place, Eric Adams, when that original ordinance was put into place, I could see him deciding to change along the way and say it's no longer necessary to have a mandatory vaccination requirement, as I said, particularly one that only affects home players," Silver said.

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For his part, Mayor Adams seemed to echo Silver's sentiments as he conceded that the rule blocking Irving from participation was perhaps wide of the mark, however, he admitted that he remained reluctant to change anything for the moment. "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, you have to be vaccinated. And they also do this for entertainers. I want people to know that. Entertainers can come here without being vaccinated and perform. I think it's unfair," he said. "And I'm not sure if a Boston fan created this rule. I don't know. But I am really, really leery about sending the wrong message. Having this city close down again keeps me up at night. And the message we put in place, the rule was put in place. To start changing it now, I think it would send mixed messages. So I'm struggling with this, just to be honest with you."

Steve Nash's hope and Irving's indifference

Prior to the Nets' game against the Knicks on Wednesday, head coach Steve Nash said that the franchise is 'hopeful' there will be a change in the mandate. "Obviously we're hopeful, but it's really out of our hands," Nash said. "We just have to be patient and hope that [the] oddity of it prevails in a sense, but that's not in my job description to write the city or the state mandates, so I think we are hopeful and we're patient and we'll wait for hopefully the best outcome but whatever outcome it is is out of our hands."

Where Irving himself is concerned, the All-Star echoed his coach's sentiment saying he hoped the mandate would be overturned, however, he was quick to draw a line. "There's no guilt that I feel," Irving said. "I'm the only player that has to deal with this in New York City because I play there. If I was anywhere else in another city then it probably wouldn't be the same circumstances. But because I'm there we have Eric Adams, we have the New York mandate, we have things going on that are real-life circumstances that are not just affecting me, bro. So you ask me these questions, I don't feel guilt. I'm just living my life as best I can, just like everybody else that missed these last two years. I didn't have a plan in place while all this was going on, didn't know. The NBA and the NBPA made it very clear that there would be things that I would be able to do to work around this. And that's off the table. So you tell me if I'm just alone out here or do I have support from everybody else that's dealing with the same thing?"

What about that Simmons for Harden trade?

While Irving's situation and the subsequent conversation garnered a great deal of attention, there was also another situation that most definitely took the public's focus. Just two days before his comments was the trade of the season with the Nets' James Harden going to Philadelphia in exchange for Ben Simmons. The deal was of course the culmination of months worth of intense public speculation. Speaking on the manner in which the scenario played out publicly, silver was to an extent remorseful. "Ideally, when players want to get traded or teams are preparing to make moves those are conversations they have confidentially with players, they have confidentially with other teams," Silver said. "Obviously, in this case it not only played out publicly but it's been playing out since the before the season even began, particularly with Philly." Silver was further questioned on whether there was a visible effect on the NBA's fanbase.

"I remember David Stern's sort of standard mantra was he would say 'Larry' and you'd say 'Boston,' you'd say 'Magic,' you'd say 'Michael' and you'd say 'Bulls,' but that was a different time," Silver said. "Now what we're seeing in the league, first of all, shorter contracts, which I don't think is a bad idea because one of the things we tried to do working with our players' association back beginning around 10 years ago was tie performance to pay in a closer way, and I think that's what you see with shorter contracts."

"The data shows that superstars moving isn't necessarily a bad thing because it allows bad situations to, in an orderly way, to change," Silver said. "It gives teams that may not be in a competitive position hope that they can sign one of those players, but shorter contracts to me is something very different, and free agents moving at the end of contracts is different, than what we just saw where you have players actively seeking to move while they're under contract. The data is clear on that: That's not good for the league."


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