As Kyrie Irving remains away from the Nets, refusing to adhere to the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, the team has moved on without him.
Tuesday afternoon, in an ironic twist, the Nets and Liberty teamed up with Gov. Kathy Hochul to offer free tickets to anyone who gets vaccinated at Barclays Center — which Irving has been unwilling to do.
“I think the message is that the team itself supports vaccinations,” Hochul said, when asked directly about Irving’s decision not to get vaccinated. “The vast, vast, vast majority of their players are vaccinated, and they’re here to support making sure that members of the community are vaccinated. That’s the takeaway from today’s event.”
Irving would have been able to practice at home and play games on the road, but the Nets decided prior to the season that he wouldn’t be a member of the team until he either took the vaccine or the city’s vaccine mandate rules change. Visiting players are allowed to play games at Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden, under an exemption within New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Key to NYC vaccine mandate.
Hochul mistakenly said it was a league rule, which it is not. She did not know if — or when — the city’s mandate would change, which would potentially enable Irving to rejoin his teammates.
“We’re just not there yet,” she said.
Forward Nic Claxton (non-COVID-19 illness) will miss his fourth straight game Wednesday, against the Hawks.
Coach Steve Nash continued to decline to reveal the nature of the illness, but said the hope is Claxton can be back as soon as a week or as long as two weeks.
“He’s just a little sick and it’s going to take a little longer,” Nash said.
While Blake Griffin has started slowly on the offensive end, averaging just 4.8 points on 28.6 percent shooting from the field, it hasn’t impacted him defensively, according to fellow veteran forward Paul Millsap.
“What I love about Blake is his defense and his discipline, always [being] in the right spot,” Millsap said. “The shots are gonna come you know, but it’s his skill level and his IQ [that] really matters.”
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