Kyrie Irving

Much of the drama in the NBA this season has centered around Brooklyn Nets‘ guard Kyrie Irving. Irving chose not to get vaccinated against COVID-19, and he’s missed all Nets’ home games as a result. The team also initially said they didn’t want Irving as a part-time road player, but he continued with his antivax stance despite that.

The Nets eventually caved in December and brought Irving in just for road games in places without vaccine mandates (after a delay caused by him testing positive for COVID-19). But there’s still been debate about if the city might eventually relax that mandate to let him play at home, especially with the playoffs looming. That’s also an issue for the unvaccinated MLB players on the Yankees and Mets. And while mayor Eric Adams has not publicly committed to lifting that mandate for professional athletes, several reports Wednesday night indicated that an exemption for athletes and other performers is set to be announced Thursday:

Yes, on the sports front in particular, it’s been a little silly that this has applied to out-of-town players but not those who play for New York teams. But there are some challenges with lifting this mandate only for athletes and entertainers. On that front Chayes passed along a tweet from Dr. Jay Varma, a key advisor to former mayor Bill de Blasio:

So this exemption may wind up hurting NYC’s wider vaccine mandate. But it will make it easier for New York athletes like Irving and Aaron Judge who have chosen to remain unvaccinated. If this exemption comes into play as reported, they’ll be able to go about their business as usual despite their choice to remain unvaccinated, even if that choice is not yet available for people in NYC outside the sports and entertainment world.

[Politico; top photo of Irving from Sam Sharpe/USA Today Sports]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously worked at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.