The Brooklyn Nets squeaked by the Milwaukee Bucks, 126-123. It was a whirlwind game with lots of insane plays by Kyrie Irving. Without Kevin Durant, Ben Simmons or Joe Harris, the diminutive star took on a mostly healthy Bucks squad and punished them time after time.
Kyrie finished with 38 points, a season-high for the former number one overall pick.
But this is Kyrie we’re talking about so the post-game chat wasn’t just about crossovers or pull-ups. This was the first time Irving was available after a game since February 12. And that means we haven’t had a chance to hear his thoughts on certain comments made by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on Irving’s controversial part-time status, or at least the rules that have caused Irving to become one since he’s unwilling to get vaccinated.
Per Andrew Lopez of ESPN, Commissioner Silver had this to say just a few weeks ago:
“This law in New York, the oddity of it to me is that it only applies to home players,” Silver said. “I think if ultimately that rule is about protecting people who are in the arena, it just doesn’t quite make sense to me that an away player who is unvaccinated can play in Barclays but the home player can’t. To me that’s a reason they should take a look at that ordinance.”
And that was the same day that NYC Mayor Eric Adams admitted to struggling with the vaccine mandate rule himself.
The essence of this issue is that, even if you remain opposed to Irving not being vaccinated, which many fans do, some fans can appreciate that it’s weird unvaccinated athletes on other teams can perform at Barclays Center in Brooklyn and local athletes cannot. The league Commissioner and the City’s Mayor Silver both seem perplexed by this “oddity.”
So following the Nets win, Irving was asked if he “appreciated what Commissioner Silver said in Irving’s defense.”
“I know his job is not easy….My respect level went to a whole new one for him and I’m just grateful that he did that he really took one for the team….”
— DaveEarly (@DavidEarly) February 27, 2022
“Oh yeah, absolutely,” Irving said. “And great to have a relationship with [Silver] and I know his job is not easy, standing in the fire sometimes on behalf of our league so my respect level went to a whole new one for him and I’m just grateful that he did that. He really took one for the team and I’m grateful for that. Like I said, we want to set a great example, for the world and what we’re doing and we try to stand for what’s right and respect everyone else’s decisions and their personal beliefs.”
It’s unclear if Adam Silver feels he “defended” Irving, or more so that he was simply commenting honestly on the situation. But it’s quite clear Irving felt Silver sided with him.
Silver’s words, of course, carry tons of weight. And since New York State Governor Kathy Hochul has already made moves to rescind certain vaccine and mask mandates, it’s now on the City’s Mayor to take the next step… if Adams feels that’s the appropriate move.
Adams has mentioned he doesn’t want to send “mixed signals” that the City is in the clear in terms of this ongoing pandemic. But he has joked that a Boston Celtics fan may have made this rule which again, allows unvaccinated road players to hoop in Brooklyn, where one of the game’s most marketable athletes cannot hoop.
But it’s intriguing to hear Irving’s respect level went to another level for the Commish. We’re going to stay glued to the news. Mayor Adams said in the coming weeks he’ll continue to examine this issue. Who knows, maybe Irving will have some props for him next month, too?