With a 2-3 start, you might think that Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai might want to soften the franchise’s stance in order to get Kyrie Irving back on the court. However, according to an interview with Ohm Youngmisuk at ESPN, Tsai made it clear that so long as the city of New York’s vaccine mandate is in place, Irving won’t be able to play until he gets vaccinated.
“I don’t know,” Tsai said. “Either he has to be vaccinated in order to come back if the New York mandate is still in place. And don’t ask me when they may or may not change the New York mandate. Again, if you ask the people that are making decisions at the city level, they are going to say we are going to rely on science, rely on what the health department tells us [in order to proceed].”
Tsai admitted he hasn’t spoken with Irving since the initial decision was made to honor the city’s vaccine mandate rather than try to find a loophole to accommodate him.
“Last time [I] talked to him was when we made the decision that he was not going to be playing until something changes,” said Tsai, who owns the team with his wife, Clara Wu Tsai. “We haven’t communicated since then.”
Ultimately, Tsai says that while he respects Irving’s beliefs, he had to make a “team decision.”
“Obviously Kyrie has his own belief so I respect that. But we have to make a team decision. This is not a decision about him. This is a decision about where we go as a team. And it is just not tenable for us to have a team with a player that comes in and out, no home games, only away games. What do you do in practice then?
“This week we have a whole stretch of six home games, so we won’t have Kyrie. So it became pretty clear to us. We are very much aligned among myself, [GM] Sean [Marks], coaching staff that this has to be [the decision], especially since we’re a team with pretty lofty aspirations. We don’t see any other way of running this team.”