On Monday, the NBA fined Brooklyn Nets $50,000 for allowing Kyrie Irving to enter their locker room during a game where he could not play due to his inability to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Irving was a spectator at Barclays Center Sunday, where he sat across from the Nets bench during Brooklyn’s 110–107 win over the New York Knicks. Although there is no mandate that all fans must be vaccinated before they can enter the arena, there is one for those who work there.
The star guard took a seat in one of the stands to view the ACC Tournament final game. He walked arm-in-arm towards Durant after the Nets game was over. Durant had scored 53 points for the season.
Monday’s statement by the league stated that Irving was allowed to enter the locker room in violation of New York City law. The locker room, unlike the stands is part of the team’s workplace environment.
Durant spent much of his postgame interview calling for New York City Mayor Eric Adams’s change in the mandate. He called it “ridiculous that unvaccinated persons could be in the arena, but not play in it.” Coach Steve Nash admitted that Irving was in the locker room during halftime.
On Monday, Durant released a statement to the Nets in which he addressed the criticisms directed at Adams a day earlier.
Durant stated that the last two years were difficult and painful for New Yorkers. He also said it was confusing because of the shifting landscape of rules and mandates. I appreciate the job the Mayor has before him, given all that the city has gone through. My frustration at the situation does not change the fact I will continue to support the communities and cities that I live and play in.
Fans had to show proof of vaccination until this week. Although the mandate has been removed, it is still in effect for employees at the arena. Already the Nets were upset that Irving could not play because Irving was not vaccinated. On Sunday, they were even more frustrated when Irving arrived at the game.