Kyrie Irving’s part-time status with the Brooklyn Nets is almost certainly coming to a close this week. All of Shams Charania, Adrian Wojnarowski, and Jeff Passan—plus the non-sports press—reported Wednesday afternoon that New York City mayor Eric Adams will modify the city’s private-sector vaccine mandate Thursday, to allow “professional athletes and performers” who are unvaccinated to return to work across the five boroughs. The mandate, which was first issued in December 2021, will remain in place for all other local businesses, but athletes like Irving and several Mets and Yankees are in the clear. It’s expected that Irving will be eligible to play in time for Brooklyn’s home game this weekend, and of course for their playoff run:
Irving is rounding into terrifying form. He’s scored 103 points across his last two games, including 43 points in a loss Wednesday night to the Memphis Grizzlies. But those two incredible outings were separated by more than a week, sandwiched around a three-game homestand that, due to his refusal to be vaccinated against COVID-19, necessarily excluded Irving. Six of Brooklyn’s nine remaining games will be played at home. Until now that looked like a brutal way to finish what has been a tough regular season; now, with Adams announcing a carve-out that may as well be named after Brooklyn’s harebrained point guard, the next two weeks look like an opportunity for the Nets to finally stabilize their rotation in time for a championship push.
This stuff is exhausting. An earlier version of this blog looked at a section of text from a 2007 book called Law in Public Health Practice, which uses the tragedy of the commons to unpack the challenges of vaccine-based herd immunity. Another early version of this blog wrestled with the word “mandatory” and the heavily compromised “mandates” that have half-heartedly tried and overwhelmingly failed to safely usher the public through this pandemic. Still another early version of the blog used the phrase “invisible hand-type batshittery” to describe the retreat and surrender that grips a community generations into a combined conservative and neoliberal assault on public institutions. Yet another scrapped version of this blog grappled with how abstracted COVID posturing and policy has become, to the point that I am no longer even all that sure why I care whether or not Kyrie Irving has been jabbed. I have an 1,800-word Google Doc containing just the paragraphs that have been deleted from this fucking blog.
Consider yourself super-lucky that I am extremely, extremely tired of thinking about this stuff! Instead I will just say that New York City’s private vaccine mandate, which prohibited Irving from playing home games but did not prohibit visiting unvaccinated players from performing in the same arena, was sloppy and arbitrary-seeming in such a way that you could almost convince yourself that it was unfair to Irving. Not so! The point of the mandate, at least as much as it was to protect those who’d have to interact with unvaccinated employees, was to compel members of the local community to become vaccinated, so that the local community could achieve and enjoy the benefits of herd immunity. The mandate could’ve been stronger, enforcement could’ve been better, it could’ve come alongside a whole range of other helpful measures, but its fatal flaw was ultimately that antivax morons could defeat it simply by waiting a little while. That was predictable. If you’ve got the resources for it, you will never go wrong betting that the people in charge will eventually support you over the common good.