On Thursday, New York City mayor Eric Adams announced an exemption for unvaccinated athletes and performers, allowing Kyrie Irving to make his home debut at Barclays Center on Sunday.
Irving can now get back to regularly doing what he does best, but his standoff certainly came with a hefty price for both his wallet — around $16 million lost for 35 games — and for Brooklyn’s title hopes.
The Nets are 16-19 at home without Irving, and their 116.7 offensive rating on the road — which would top the NBA — dips to 108.8 at home.
- Irving’s worth his $35M annual salary when he plays: He’s averaging 28.5 PPG, and could be the third player to ever finish 50/40/90 in back-to-back seasons (Larry Bird, Steve Nash).
- He already passed up a four-year, $181 million extension this past offseason.
- Kyrie is eligible for a five-year, $235 million contract extension this summer.
At this point, Irving will only be vindicated if he leads the Nets to their first NBA championship — anything less will revive questions about failed chemistry and lost continuity.
But if the playoffs started today, Irving wouldn’t be able to suit up for the first play-in game. Toronto — currently the 7-seed — still doesn’t allow unvaccinated opposing players to cross the border.