Seven-time star player Kyrie Irving recently returned to the Nets part-time, with participation limited to training and outdoor matches.
Due to New York City regulations for people who are not vaccinated against COVID-19, Irving is prohibited from playing games held at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden in Manhattan. However, he is allowed to train with the team because the Nets was considered a private building.
MORE: KD says Kyrie won’t force the vaccine
According to a recent report by Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, vaccination is not the only way Irving can join the Nets for games played in New York.
NBA League Pass: Register and unlock live games outside the market (7-day free trial)
What gap would allow the unvaccinated Kyrie Irving to play in the Nets home games?
Bondy’s report quotes “The Key to NYC,” an executive order issued by former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasi outlining regulations and punishments for unvaccinated people over the age of 12.
The order states that “except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, the covered entity will not allow a patron, full-time or part-time employee, trainee, volunteer or contractor to enter covered areas without proof of vaccination and identification. containing the same identification as the vaccination certificate. “
While professional athletes who play for teams based outside of New York City are excluded, the above statement applies to professional athletes for home teams in New York City. So what’s the gap? In short, those who violate the plan are fined relatively little.
MORE: Irving lost millions due to missing home games
The first offense results in a warning, the second offense results in a fine of $ 1,000, the third offense results in a fine of $ 2,000, and each offense from that point onwards results in a fine of $ 5,000.
For perspective, Irving received a docked 1 / 91.6 of his salary, or $ 380,000, for every home game he missed until this point in the season. According to Forbes, Nets owner Joseph Tsai has net worth of $ 8.9 billion.
Regardless of whether fines are imposed on individuals or companies, the potential financial loss would be manageable for both parties.
Would the NBA Nets and Kyrie allow Irving to take advantage of this gap?
As Bondy outlined in his report, “the optics of disobeying the vaccination mandate just because of the sheer wealth and basketball is scary. It’s not something the Nets would want to explore. They shouldn’t either.”
It is not clear whether a proposal could be made within the NBA and its players’ association to exploit such gaps, but given the nature of the mandate and the upward trend in the pandemic, it is unlikely that this will happen.
As it is, Irving could only participate in outdoor matches if the Nets advanced to the NBA playoffs in 2021. If they clashed with the Knicks or Raptors, they could not participate at all if they remained unvaccinated and the current rules.
If current rules jeopardize Irving’s participation in post-season basketball, the team could look for an exception for its star.