By Ben Church, CNN
(CNN) — Ahead of the start of the NBA’s 75th season, the sport’s commissioner Adam Silver told reporter that he hopes Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving gets vaccinated against Covid-19.
A seven-time All-Star, Irving has so far refused the vaccine and Nets general manager Sean Marks said he would not play or practice with the team until he met eligibility requirements.
The NBA had warned the Nets as well as the New York Knicks and Golden State Warriors that new Covid-19 policies set by local governments will prohibit any unvaccinated player from playing in home games in New York City and San Francisco.
Speaking on Monday, Silver told reporters that he understood the vaccine mandate and urged Irving to reassess his decision.
“I think it’s perfectly appropriate that New York and other cities have passed laws that require people who both work and visit arenas to be vaccinated,” Silver said.
“I hope that Kyrie (Irving), despite how strongly he feels about the vaccination, ultimately decides to get vaccinated because I would love to see him play basketball this season.
“And I’d love to see the Brooklyn Nets have their full complement of players on the floor.”
‘Don’t believe that I’m going to give up this game’
In an Instagram Live video last week, Irving said that “nobody should be forced to do anything with their bodies,” and that his decision was not politically motivated.
Despite being told he could not play for the Nets on a part-time basis this season, Irving said he has no intentions to retire.
“Don’t believe that I’m going to give up this game for a vaccine mandate or staying unvaccinated,” said the 29-year-old.
On the eve of the new season, Silver would not be drawn over whether the situation was fair on Irving but backed the vaccinate mandate in certain cities across the US.
“I’m not sure if fair is the right way to approach it because there’s nothing fair about this virus,” he said.
“It’s indiscriminate in terms of who it impacts, and I think it’s perfectly appropriate that New York and other cities have passed laws that require people who both work and visit arenas to be vaccinated.”
Silver says around 96% of NBA players have been vaccinated already, meaning restrictions around the new NBA season have been softened.
The Nets open their 2021-22 season on the road against the defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks on October 19.
While the Nets take on the Bucks, the LA Lakers will host the Golden State Warriors with matches for the 75th season being programmed across 215 countries and territories in 50 different languages.
Excitement is already building with fans debating who will be crowned champion this season, and players have even getting involved.
LeBron James, 36, told reporters he has read the jokes and seen the mocking memes that say the Lakers are too old to win this time around.
“I kinda laugh at it. I actually really do laugh at it, I’m not just saying that,” he told reporters on Monday.
“Some of the memes and some of the jokes have been extremely funny. And then some of it is just to get people to read tabloids.
“We make our own narrative. One thing that we know, we got a bunch of guys that’s been in this league for quite awhile that knows what it takes to win.
“That’s the business that we are in, winning, and doing it all the time not just on occasion. So, I look forward to that.”
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