On Friday, December 17th, Sean Marks, the general manager of the Brooklyn Nets, announced that the team would be welcoming back star point guard Kyrie Irving. This comes after Irving who has most notably been away from the team after not complying with New York City’s vaccine mandates for indoor places.
This move also represents a change of heart from the Nets who before the season started said that they would not have Irving on the team as a part-time player. There are a lot of elements to Irving’s return that make it incredibly complicated.
For one, Irving can only play in away games except against the New York Knicks because they would be in New York City. This is because New York City has a vaccine mandate for workers which states that “[those] who perform in-person work or interact with the public in the course of business must show proof they have received at least one dose of vaccination.”
Another thing worth mentioning is what will the Nets do during the playoffs if Irving is still unvaccinated and he can’t play at home? Imagine the possibility of a Game 7 at the Barclays Center, but Irving can’t even play because of his vaccination status?
What’s also fascinating is the timing of Irving’s return to the Nets. The Nets brought him back, even though they are flying high sitting atop the Eastern Conference without him. Irving’s return to the Nets could possibly have an impact on their rotation, and their style of play. The question is will it have a positive or negative impact?
You may be thinking ‘how could Kyrie have a negative impact?’ Well, Irving is a ball-dominant player on a team with Kevin Durant and James Harden who are also ball dominant players. Although the two were adamant that they wanted Irving back on the team. In an interview with Malika Andrews of ESPN, Harden said that when Irving comes back “It’s going to be elite.” Recently on his podcast “The Boardroom” Durant said that “Adding Kyrie to the equation just makes us so much better as a team.”
Since Irving has to get acclimated to playing real games again, that adjustment may take time. One of the reasons this adjustment could take a long time is because Irving will only be playing in away games. The first game that he would be eligible to play in is on January 5th against the Indiana Pacers.
Irving’s return to the court will certainly be something that will garner the attention of the fans, who have been anxiously awaiting his return. If he is able to come back and play like he has most of his career, the Nets could become an even more formidable team.