The Brooklyn Nets received a much-needed boost to the availability of their controversial superstar Kyrie Irving as Canada plans to lift the COVID-19 vaccine mandate by the end of September.
The Nets are scheduled to visit the Toronto Raptors on Nov. 23 and Dec. 16.
The welcome news came one day after Irving called the vaccine mandate as among the ‘biggest human rights violations’ in history.
Irving’s refusal to take the COVID-19 vaccine torpedoed the Nets’ title chances last season. His costly decision caused him to miss 53 games of the regular season. It was not until New York City Mayor Eric Adams gave special exemption to athletes and performers from the vaccine mandate in late March that Irving made his season debut.
But it was a little too late.
The Nets eventually fell in the first round of the NBA playoffs, losing to the Boston Celtics in four games.
His availability over his first three seasons — playing in only 103 out of possible 236 regular-season games — with the Nets became a sticking point in their extension talks leading to an impasse. With no suitable trade partner for the Nets, the 30-year-old Irving decided to pick up his $36.5 million player option.
With Irving returning and Kevin Durant backing out from his trade demands, the Nets are expected to contend in the Eastern Conference with a much younger and more athletic supporting cast.
While Irving will be allowed to play, he will be subjected to weekly testing this coming season as per league policy for unvaccinated players.
The NBA is still not taking COVID-19 lightly despite everything is on track to returning to normalcy. They are still recommending players, team and league personnel to get the vaccine boosters.
The league is also requiring all players and team personnel to get tested when exhibiting any symptoms. In addition, they will also be required to report those symptoms and any positive or inconclusive results of tests not administered by the team or the league. Players and personnel will also be required to report when someone in their household tests positive for COVID-19.
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