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Kyrie Irving closer to Barclays return with vaccine mandate ending

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Kyrie Irving just took one giant step on his long journey back to Barclays Center.

And while Irving still isn’t cleared for home games — a City Hall spokesperson confirmed to The Post that the private sector mandate still keeps the Nets’ All-Star point guard from playing — New York City mayor Eric Adams’ latest statements about loosening COVID-19 vaccine mandates bring him that much closer.

“New York City’s #COVID numbers continue to go down,” Adams tweeted at 4:56 p.m. Sunday. “So long as our indicators show a low level of risk and we see no surprises this week, on Monday, March 7 we will also remove the vaccination requirements for Key2NYC — meaning indoor dining, fitness and entertainment venues.”

Irving’s refusal to adhere to the city’s vaccine mandates has seen him barred from playing home games at Barclays Center, or even at the rival Knicks. (He also can’t even enter Canada to face the Toronto Raptors along with his Nets teammates for their game Tuesday night).

Kyrie Irving
Benny Sieu/USA TODAY Sports

Due to his unvaccinated status, Irving — who is averaging 25.1 points, 5.3 assists and 4.8 rebounds — has played just 15 games this season. But recent movement to loosen vaccine mandates has had both Irving and the Nets hopeful.

“I’m following just as much as you guys are, so just remaining patient and just seeing where things end up in the next week or so or two weeks,” Irving said after Saturday night’s win in Milwaukee. “I’m not too sure, but I know as much as you do. But I just want to say this: I’m very appreciative of all those that are pushing behind the scenes to make our world better, and with everything calming down with the COVID cases, the most important thing for me was making sure everybody was OK, and I’ve been on record saying this that it’s not about me.

“I don’t want to feel like it’s all me. But the circumstances this season have not been ideal. But I’m glad things are settling down and there’s light at the end of the tunnel here and hopefully I can get back on that home floor playing at the Barclays and we can finally have that conversation [the media has] been dying to have about turning the page and moving forward beyond this. But like I said I’m not the only one. I feel for everybody that’s in my boat or in a similar boat or dealt with some type of trauma from this. Just wishing everybody well wishes from this.”

As it currently stands, Irving will only be eligible for seven of Brooklyn’s remaining 21 games, since he’s barred from road tilts at the Knicks and Raptors along with all Barclays Center contests. And he’ll only be able to suit up for one of their final eight regular-season dates.

And if it’s not confusing enough, the potential dropping of the indoor venue mandates will finally allow Irving to enter Barclays Center and watch his Nets play as a fan. But with the private business vaccine mandate still in effect — forcing big business to ensure their employees are vaccinated — a City Hall spokesperson clarified the All-Star guard won’t be able to play.

Yet.

Nets guard Kyrie Irving drives against Bucks guard Wesley Matthews in the third quarter at Fiserv Forum.
Nets guard Kyrie Irving drives against Bucks guard Wesley Matthews.
Benny Sieu/USA TODAY Sports

But the situation is fluid, like a back-and-forth NBA game.

“We’re taking this week to give business owners the time to adapt while we monitor the numbers to ensure we are making the best public health decisions for the people of New York,” Adams tweeted.

For his part, Irving said he appreciated NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s recent comments on ESPN saying it “doesn’t quite make sense to me” to bar Irving from playing while letting unvaccinated visiting foes come play in New York.

“I know his job is not easy, standing in the fire sometimes on behalf of our league,” Irving said. “So my respect level went to a whole new one for him, and I’m just grateful that he did that, and he really took one for the team. And I’m grateful for that.”




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