What Are/Were the True Consequences of Kyrie Playing Unvaccinated?
Originally, this article was written for the purpose of exploring whether Kyrie could play in Brooklyn despite the vaccination requirement. However, the point of such a story is diminished slightly due to Mayor Eric Adams’s declaration that the mandates will be ending by the end of the week. There still remain questions unanswered, however despite the mandate being lifted.
At the outset, it should be demonstrated that the vaccination requirement in NY was not heavy handed, particularly to people and entities such as the Brooklyn Nets and Kyrie Irving. After speaking with anyone I could from the office of Mayor Eric Adams, the penalty for Kyrie Irving should he play in Brooklyn unvaccinated goes as follows:
1st offense; written/oral warning of the offense
2nd offense; $1,000
3rd offense; $2,000 (w/in 12 months of offense 2)
4th + offense; $5,000 (w/in 12 months of offense 2)
Kyrie Irving makes $425,807 per game. A fine of $5,000 would have absolutely no effect on Irving’s earning capability and wouldn’t make a dent in the Nets accounting books. Theoretically, then, regardless of the lifting of mandates, it would be plausible that Kyrie would have been available for the playoffs.
But here lies the true question surrounding the circumstances: What would be the consequences of playing Kyrie despite the mandate? Is there an increased penalty for the wilful abandonment of the law? Imagine the Brooklyn Nets looked at the vaccine mandate and said, “Well, we have the money for this” and continued to play Kyrie in Brooklyn without a second thought. It would be public knowledge that the Nets are breaking the law and doing so willingly to win games. Would that trigger further action from NYC? Or would there be heightened penalties for their specific disregard of the law? When asking city officials and entertainment lawyers alike, there wasn’t a clear consensus as to what the answer to this question would be. But, perhaps the question is nullified due to the Brooklyn Nets’ own policy requiring vaccination among their players while in New York.
As explained in the tweet above, there may have been further complications towards Kyrie’s return to the team should a private sector mandate exist.
It seems incredibly unlikely that the Nets would continue their policy should the state and city lift their respective policies. Also, it is not clear that the law on the books for the Brooklyn Nets isn’t arbitrary and capricious on its face.
Kyrie, since January 5th, has been available for each away game for the franchise. How could the team uphold its vaccination requirement for the team, should it only apply 50% of the time? Therefore, despite reputable Shams Charania’s reporting, it is unlikely that the Nets would be the obstacle in the way of Kyrie’s return.
A full time Kyrie, mixed with a fully healthy Durant and the new additions of Ben Simmons, Seth Curry and Andre Drummond could create momentum in Brooklyn towards a title run …
With Kyrie returning to full time status, that will change the calculus for some teams in the east. No longer can the teams atop the standings count on kyrie to be only available for road games.