Kyrie Irving is back.
After missing the first 35 games of the season, Irving is expected to make his season debut when the Nets travel to take on the Pacers on Wednesday, Jan. 5, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Irving’s debut comes less than three weeks after the franchise announced that he would be permitted to rejoin the team on a part-time basis, meaning he will practice with the team in its home market and participate solely in road games.
After the Nets’ initial statement that they would not allow Irving to participate, was there a change that led to him rejoining the team?
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Is Kyrie Irving vaccinated for COVID-19?
There have been no reports to indicate that Irving’s vaccination status has changed, a notion supported by the fact that his season debut is coming away from Brooklyn and in a road game in Indiana.
Due to a New York City mandate regarding persons unvaccinated for COVID-19, Irving cannot play in games held at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center or Manhattan’s Madison Square Garden without being vaccinated. He is permitted to practice at the Nets’ practice facility, which is deemed a private building.
In his first media appearance since rejoining the Nets, Irving alluded to remaining unvaccinated, saying “now we’re here, and they were able to just be supportive of allowing me to be available for road games — that was the goal once this state mandate came in. It didn’t work in October but now that we’re here, I’m praying that it works.”
A change in the city mandate or a change in Irving’s vaccination status would result in his full availability.
Nets remaining road game schedule 2021-22
Upon the announcement of Irving’s return, the Nets have 25 road games remaining. If Irving remains unvaccinated, he will be eligible to play in all but three of the team’s remaining road games: Feb. 16 and April 6 at the Knicks and March 1 at the Raptors, as noted below.
Barring any changes, Irving would be unable to take the floor if the Nets faced one of the Knicks or Raptors in a playoff series.
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