Mavericks’ Kyrie Irving tells fans to thank NYC Mayor Eric Adams for Nets shortcomings

It’s been over a year since Kyrie Irving’s tenure with the Nets came to an end and while all parties have moved on, Irving appears to believe a major decision-maker had a hand in things not working out.

And it isn’t Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn or owner Joe Tsai.

In his first game back in Brooklyn, Irving was so impressive that a courtside fan asked why the Nets couldn’t benefit from such performances during his tenure with the team. The answer? New York City Mayor Eric Adams, according to Irving.

“Thank Mayor Adams for that, bro,” Irving said to the fan as he prepared to inbound the ball.

The answer may have been tongue in cheek, but Irving seemed rather serious in his delivery.

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What did Mayor Adams do to Kyrie Irving?

Adams, who was elected as mayor of New York City in 2021 and assumed office in 2022, is often associated with the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate that notably prevented Irving from participating in home games during the 2021-22 season. After being elected, Adams stood firm on the mandate and would not change his stance for months.

Per the terms of the mandate, any city resident who was unvaccinated for COVID-19 could not work within the city limits. As a result, Irving, who made the choice to remain unvaccinated, began the season ineligible to play in the Nets’ 41 home games and two away games at Madison Square Garden.

Ahead of the season, Nets GM Sean Marks announced that the organization would not allow Irving to participate on a part-time basis, thus holding him out of away games for which he was eligible. 

The franchise would eventually change its stance and the mandate would ultimately be lifted but Irving was limited to just 29 games during the 2021-22 regular season, 22 of which came away from New York City.

Brooklyn finished the 2021-22 season with a 44-38 record and, after a Play-In Tournament victory, was swept by the eventual Eastern Conference champion Celtics in the opening round of the playoffs. That series sweep proved to be the beginning of the end.

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After requesting a trade months later, Irving was dealt to the Mavericks ahead of the 2023 trade deadline. All-Star teammate Kevin Durant was traded to Phoenix shortly thereafter.

Despite the way things ended, Irving appears to be at peace with his tenure as a Net. After scoring 36 points in his return game, Irving had many positive things to say in his walk-off interview.

“I made some incredible relationships, man — I made a lot of friends here. A lot of brothers and sisters that I’m going to have for a lifetime. They really welcomed me home. 

“I’m really a New Jersey kid that got a chance to play for the New Jersey Nets — really, the Brooklyn Nets, but I got to live out my dream and that’s all I can ask for.”

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