All-Star guard Kyrie Irving is returning to the Brooklyn Nets on a part-time player basis for games outside of New York and Toronto, ESPN reports. He has not participated with the team since the first week of training camp in San Diego in early October.
Irving, who refused to comply with New York City mandates and become vaccinated to play in home games in Brooklyn or at Madison Square Garden, will now be eligible to play in select road games pending his passing of a series of COVID-19 tests.
According to the reports, with James Harden and seven other players unavailable to play due to health and safety protocols and the heavy minutes that Kevin Durant has accumulated, led the Nets to bring Irving back on the team.
In an official announcement, the Nets announced the new trajectory for the team,
“We arrived at this decision with the full support of our players and after careful consideration of our current circumstances, including players missing games due to injuries and health and safety protocols,” the Nets general manager Sean Marks said in a statement. “We believe that the addition of Kyrie will not only make us a better team but allow us to more optimally balance the physical demand on the entire roster.
“We look forward to Kyrie’s return to the lineup, as well as getting our entire roster back together on the court,” the statement continued.
Reportedly, Irving has been anxious to return to the court even posting a video of himself putting on his basketball sneakers and has the endorsement of Nets owner Joe Tsai, Marks, coach Steve Nash, and his teammates.
As EBONY previously reported, the Nets announced that Irving would not be permitted at the team’s facilities—not even on a part-time basis—due to his vaccination status, back in October.
Marks spoke about how the Nets came to the decision at the time.
“Given the evolving nature of the situation and after thorough deliberation, we have decided Kyrie Irving will not play or practice with the team until he is eligible to be a full participant,” Marks said. “Kyrie has made a personal choice, and we respect his individual right to choose. Currently, the choice restricts his ability to be a full-time member of the team, and we will not permit any member of our team to participate with part-time availability.”
For the remainder of the season, the Nets have 27 road games remaining, but two are at Madison Square Garden, home of the New York Knicks, where Irving would not be eligible to play. Also, he’s ineligible to play March 1 in Toronto against the Raptors.
Because he’s still unvaccinated, Irving will be tested for COVID-19 daily.