Kyrie Irving’s return to Nets home games imminent as NYC Mayor Eric Adams ‘can’t wait’ to lift vaccine mandate

Brooklyn Nets, Kyrie Irving
Jan 25, 2020; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) reacts during overtime against the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

One day after Brooklyn Nets GM Sean Marks expressed optimism that Kyrie Irving could play in their home games for the stretch run, New York City Mayor Eric Adams boosted those hopes.

In his press briefing at Brooklyn Navy Yard on Wednesday, Adams said that he’s eager to lift the vaccine mandate and that they’re moving in the right direction.

“Yes, and I can’t wait to get it done,” said Adams referring to lifting the vaccine mandate. “I think that I take my hat off to New Yorkers through masks vaccines through social distancing. You know, we were hit with the uncertainty, the fear of COVID. I’m just really proud of how we responded as New Yorkers.”

But while Adams is eager to follow other major cities like the nation’s capital, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and soon Chicago to lift its proof of vaccination requirements in indoor venues, he was quick to add that he will adhere to Science.

“Every morning, I meet with my health professionals because I always stated, I’m going to follow the science,” Adams said. “I’m not going to get ahead of the science because I’m ready to get ahead of all of this and get back to a level of normality, but they’ve given us clear structures. They gave us benchmarks. We’re going to follow those benchmarks.”

The next few weeks will be critical in shaping up Adams’ decision. As of Wednesday, COVID-19 cases in New York have dropped to 2,975, a -56 percent change in the last 14 days.

“I look forward to the next few weeks of going to a real transformation that I don’t have to wonder what you look like. I would know what you look like again, so we are moving in the right direction. We go to doing the safe way because all of these experts will tell you one thing we can’t close down again. We can’t close down again. And I’m not going to do something at my anticipation to get back that’s going to jeopardize closing down the city again,” Adams said.

The Nets will play in Brooklyn in 13 of their last 23 games starting Thursday against division rival Boston Celtics. But they only have three home games in the next three weeks after hosting the Celtics.

“I have to be optimistic like everybody here. I think we all know what’s at stake here,” Marks said Tuesday. “They’re starting to change rules that we’re starting to see a sense of normalcy again getting back to life. We have to go on. Vaccine rates are obviously high, so I’m optimistic.”

The Nets currently sit at eighth in the Eastern Conference with a 31-28 record but have won two of their last three games since trading James Harden for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and future picks. Simmons has yet to play, but there’s also optimism that he or Kevin Durant is close to returning.

“Depending on when they go, we’ve got to see how they respond to the days like [Tuesday], and we’ll go forward with this. It’s going to be tough, to be honest, to be playing in the next three or four days, but we’ll see how it all plays out. I’m certainly not bid against either one of those guys,” Marks said.

“All I could say is I left the gym before coming over here, and I could see those guys on the court doing their individual workouts and the pace with which Kevin, for one, was going at it. It’s always remarkable to me how he is just trying to master his craft. Absolutely incredible, inspirational.”

Durant has not played since Jan. 15 due to sprained MCL on his left knee. He also skipped attending the NBA All-Star Game in Cleveland after his grandmother passed away. Simmons has not played since the playoffs. ‘

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo