With the Brooklyn Nets banning Kyrie Irving from practices and games, where do the two sides go from here?
Kyrie Irving is the biggest story in the NBA. Although he wanted to keep his vaccination status private, that’s impossible with the New York City COVID-19 vaccination mandate. The Brooklyn Nets dropped a bombshell on Tuesday morning by banning Irving from all games and practices.
In theory, Irving could have played in road games while still practicing with the Nets at home and on the road. But only having a starter like Irving in some games would be a strange situation, to say the least.
General manager Sean Marks announced the banning of Irving in a statement on Tuesday. He later met with the media to discuss the organization’s decision.
Sean Marks says the decision on Kyrie Irving was made by himself and Joe Tsai: pic.twitter.com/vHvQ2UjF6B
— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) October 12, 2021
“I think this is a decision that ultimately Joe Tsai and myself made,” Marks told reporters. “As always, involve a lot of people in this, but the decision came down to the two of is. It’s what’s best for the organization at this point in time.”
Even without Irving, the Nets are a bonafide title contender. Hell, they are still going to be the favorite to win it all with or without Irving. That’s not a question.
However, there are questions that need to be answered. First things first, how is Irving going to react to his team telling him, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
Also, what is the path forward for the Nets and Irving? Let’s take a look at a few of the potential scenarios going forward.
Potential Kyrie Irving Scenarios
Out for the Entire Season
This is a definite possibility at this point in time. As we said, the Nets can win a championship with the current roster sans Irving. It would be much easier with a superstar scorer who can take pressure off of James Harden and Kevin Durant.
Kyrie Irving Gets Vaccinated
It seems pretty clear that Irving is willing to march to the beat of his own drum. It wouldn’t surprise anyone to see him sit out the entire season just to prove a point. However, would anyone be completely shocked if Irving gets his first vaccine dose in time to take the floor against the Milwaukee Bucks on opening night?
New York City Lifts Vaccine Mandate
Honestly, we can’t rule out this scenario. Protocols, guidelines, and mandates have been anything but consistent since the pandemic began for New Yorkers in March of 2020. Only a handful of cities are imposing strict vaccine mandates on indoor dining, entertainment, etc.
New York City will also have a new mayor in 2022. It’s worth acknowledging the possibility of the city rolling back this vaccine mandate. In this scenario, Irving would be free to return to the team as a full-time player.
Let’s go from one extreme to the next. The Nets are forcing Irving’s hand in a major way with this decision to ban him from the team. It’s a risky play on their part. Expect the unexpected when it comes to Kyrie and retirement seems like an unlikely outcome, but we would be foolish to ignore this scenario entirely.
The Brooklyn Nets Want Kyrie Irving Back
Even with all the hoopla surrounding Irving and the Nets this preseason, one thing is indisputable — the Brooklyn Nets want Kyrie Irving back. Marks is forcing his hand with this decision, but he made it crystal clear that the Nets want their superstar guard back.
“The hope is that we’ll have Kyrie back,” Marks said in his presser. “We’ll welcome him back with open arms under a different set of circumstances. We need to wait and see how that transpires. In the meantime, we need to focus on the 16 players that are going to be on this roster moving forward.”