Brian Mark Weber / March 18, 2022

Kyrie Irving and the COVID Idiocy of New York City

Keeping an NBA player off his home court over a vaccine mandate is rightly drawing a lot of ire.

Over the past two years, we’ve been living in a bad Hollywood movie.

Family businesses were told it was too dangerous to keep their doors open to customers, while hundreds of coughing and sneezing shoppers huddled in lines at Walmart and Home Depot. Churches were shuttered as well, and in some states where they were allowed to stay open, the congregation was forbidden by law to sing. School kids had to sit in front of a computer seven hours a day, shut away from their friends and teachers. Meanwhile, liquor stores were free to peddle their goods without any threat to public health.

But those were strange times, and the media’s fearmongering pushed the public to accept what a sane, clear-thinking public would never put up with. Surely, we’re in a better place now. The insanity is over, and the strange contradictions of a pandemic are in the past. Right?

Not so fast.

Just ask Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving, who once again had to watch his team play a basketball game without him. Irving’s offense? Working for a New York City-based employer, the Nets, and having chosen not to be vaccinated for COVID-19. That means he’s banned from playing in home games with his teammates at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

“Irving was forced to sit out Brooklyn’s 34th home game of the season due to being unvaccinated in New York City,” The Daily Wire reports. But get this: “He was able to attend the game as a fan after NYC Mayor Eric Adams lifted the public sector vaccine mandate in February. However, the private sector vaccine mandate is still in place, meaning Irving is ineligible to play at either Barclays Center or Madison Square Garden, home of the New York Knicks.”

The Wire adds, “On Monday, the NBA announced that the Nets have been fined $50,000 for allowing Irving into the locker room during Saturday afternoon’s game.”

Let’s get this straight: The Nets have to cough up 50 grand for letting Irving walk into the locker room without a vaccination? It gets even more twisted.

“He’s allowed to be in the arena with thousands of other people, to join his teammates in the locker room, and to visit bars, restaurants, and clubs in the city,” writes political analyst Eric Boehm. “None of those activities require showing proof of vaccination anymore. But the city regards him as a COVID risk if he sets foot on the court, thanks to an ongoing mandate that all employees for private businesses must be vaccinated.”

Back in February, while Irving had to watch the game with fans, the city’s policy exempted visiting players from the same mandate. Other NBA stars, such as LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers, were quick to denounce the stupidity of the policy.

As for Irving, he said he didn’t understand the contradictory nature of New York City’s mandate. But what’s to understand? You can’t make sense of nonsense. And that’s the whole point. Power drives even well-intentioned politicians to implement convoluted policies. In reality, Irving knows exactly what’s going on, as he said during a press conference: “Somebody’s trying to make a statement or a point to flex their authority.”

For the past two years, millions of Americans came to the same conclusion when their lives were upended by attention-grabbing, power-hungry politicians flexing their COVID muscles. Those Americans were routinely branded as conspiracy theorists, anti-vaxxers, and science deniers.

Now we all know that science had very little to do with our nation’s COVID-19 response.

Unfortunately, the confusing New York City mandate doesn’t only apply to professional athletes. As The Gothamist reports, “All jobholders in the five boroughs would still be required to be fully vaccinated to go to work, but visitors to those places — such as restaurant customers or sports fans — would not.”

This all seems outrageous, even idiotic, but if New Yorkers don’t mind living like this, then they can’t really blame the people they keep electing to public office. When NBAers like Kyrie Irving make more sense talking about public policy than big city mayors and bureaucrats, you know we’re in trouble.

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