The Brooklyn Nets have reportedly gained “renewed optimism” that Kyrie Irving will suit up for the team this season.
On Monday, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that Kevin Durant and Irving have been increasing communication in recent weeks, leading to “an increased level of enthusiasm between the two superstars.”
Irving has not played a game this season because he refused to get vaccinated for COVID-19, while the city of New York requires any person entering an indoor place like an arena to have at least one shot of the vaccine.
The city will require full vaccination—two shots of Pfizer or Moderna or one shot of Johnson & Johnson beginning Dec. 27.
Irving could play in most road games, but the team did not allow him to just be a part-time player.
It is unclear if that stance has softened, but Nets’ governor Joe Tsai has been a big advocate for vaccination.
“Obviously, Kyrie has his own belief, so I respect that,” Tsai told ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk in October.
“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?”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has also called on Irving to be vaccinated.
Irving said his decision to remain unvaccinated is not political but has not gone into detail on his reasoning. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and they remain the best way to slow the spread of the virus.
New York City mayor-elect Eric Adams says he has no plans on changing the city’s vaccine mandate. That places the onus on Irving to be vaccinated or for the Nets to change their stance and allow him to play in road games.
Kyrie Irving is important to the Nets’ title hopes, and it would be a welcomed sight for the league to see one of its stars back.