You Can Come to the Arena, but You Can’t Play

Kyrie Irving, an unvaccinated NBA star, has been banned from playing for the Brooklyn Nets despite New York City having supposedly relaxed its vaccination mandate.

He is allowed to go to the arena along with many other people. All of these activities are allowed without the need to show proof of vaccination. However, the City regards him as a risk to COVID if he walks onto the courtroom. It is because of an ongoing mandate that every employee in private companies must be vaccinated.

Irving and his teammates don’t find the rule to be very useful.

“It’s ridiculous. It’s absurd,” Nets forward Kevin Durant said. told reportersSunday was a disappointing day for the Knicks, who dropped 53 points in a game against them. “It didn’t make sense. There are unvaxxed individuals in this building. We got a guy who can come into the building—I guess, are there fearing our safety? I don’t get it.”

Durant stated, “It’s just silly,” and then told Mayor Eric Adams to “figure that out.”

This assessment is hard to dispute.

New York City’s vaccination mandate had many loopholes. Irving was not allowed to play in the Nets’ February 14th game against the Sacramento Kings, but Justin Holliday of the Kings, also unvaccinated on that date, was. WasThe rules allowed visiting players to play as the exemption was provided. Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner at that time, stated that if that rule was about protecting those who are present in the arena it doesn’t make any sense that an away player that’s not vaccinated can still play in Barclays while the home player cannot.”

The situation got more absurd on March 7, when Adams rolled back the city’s indoor mask and vaccine mandates but did not lift the private employer vaccine mandate, which requires that anyone working in person for a New York City–based company be vaccinated.

As a result, Irving is still being kept off the court—even though, as Durant pointed out on Sunday, unvaccinated New Yorkers are free to attend Nets games.

It doesn’t matter what your opinion is about vaccine mandates. This arrangement is dumb. Irving must be removed from the arena to make the mandate effective as public health measures. The current city policy states that anyone can enter the arena and watch the unvaccinated members of visiting teams. The policy allows Irving, an unvaccinated person to take a seat on the bench with the rest of the players. The public could be put at risk if he or she steps onto the court.

Lebron James, Los Angeles Lakers’ superstar, tweeted his dismay at the absurdity.

This confusing and contradictory rule is not only affecting Irvine. An unvaccinated New Yorker, under the current rules, could legally visit any bar in the city that would have him—but would be banned from mixing cocktails or pouring beer in the same venue. While a performer can watch Broadway shows with hundreds of others, he or she is not allowed to act, sing, dance, act, nor get paid for cleaning up after the show has ended. It’s dangerous for public health. Naturally.

New York City’s private employer mandate—like the similar one that the Supreme Court blocked at the federal level—should never have been imposed in the first place. This was an unjustified interference of the government in private work arrangements between employees and employers.

And now that the city’s public officials have decided vaccine mandates are no longer necessary to protect the public, it’s not just an overreaching policy—it’s a completely nonsensical and ineffective one.