The Brooklyn Nets flexed all of their powers against the Eastern Conference-leading Chicago Bulls on January 12, and they did with their Big 3 of Kyrie Irving, James Harden and Kevin Durant.
Unfortunately, the only way for fans and the team to see the three of them playing together is on the road. Due to New York City’s strict COVID vaccination laws, Irving is unable to play in any Nets road games.
The Nets do have some options to look at, including paying a fine for each home game he plays in, to get Irving to be with the team full-time, but for right now he’s only available on the road.
While he only chipped in nine points in the victory over the Bulls, it’s no question the Nets are a better team with him in the lineup, and Irving definitely knows that. After the game, he was asked by reporters what it was like sitting out the season up to this point.
Kyrie Had Strong FOMO
Irving said he was suffering from a case of fear of missing out, which is to be expected when you’re one of the key pieces of a championship roster looking at them compete without you.
“I didn’t wanna accept it at first,” he told reporters. “I tried not to get emotionally attached to it, because when I did it felt like I had FOMO. Every. Single. Day, was just like, ‘Man I just wanna be with the guys.’”
If the Nets stand pat and don’t look for alternatives, the way for Irving to “be with the guys,” would be to simply get the COVID vaccine. Harden joked about that after the game.
“I’m gonna give him the shot,” he said in response to having optimism that Irving would be able to join the Nets for home games. The Nets have shown they can easily walk into the playoffs without Irving, but they have struggled with beating winning teams without him.
So, will Irving be able to appear in home games without a vaccine?
Details Are Murky
In a tweet from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, he notes that it doesn’t seem like the Nets will be able to pay a fine to get Irving to play while citing a memo from the NBA.
“NBA memo to organizations on September 1 says that teams must follow local laws and players who don’t comply won’t be able to play,” he says.
This would seem to indicate that Irving would still be ineligible to play despite the Nets being able to pay a fine to New York City itself. The team would definitely like to find a way to get Irving to appear in the rest of their games going forward, but it looks like it’s going to be difficult if Irving fails to comply with the NYC laws.
It will be very interesting to see if their dominance continues with him in the lineup because it’s only going to make the situation worse if that’s the case. Playoff series will definitely be a strange experience if he can’t play in the home games.