Sunday afternoon marked the home opener for the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center against the Charlotte Hornets. The main focus was supposed to be on the Nets coming off a big win against the 76ers, but instead, prior to the game, all eyes were on a player that currently isn’t even allowed to enter the building.
That player is point guard Kyrie Irving, who is unable to be with the team due to his choice to remain unvaccinated.
Vaccine mandate protestors stood outside of Barclays Center to show support for Irving before the 4 p.m. ET tipoff. The protesters were donned in “Stand with Kyrie” shirts and signs, along with articles of clothing in favor of the Black Lives Matter movement and former President Donald Trump.
Protestors trampled over the barricades, forcing the Barclays Center to go into lockdown and temporarily close all entrances to the game. Ultimately, the pro-Kyrie Irving group was unable to gain access into the building and those with tickets were allowed to enter.
Barclays Center goes into lockdown after vaccine mandate protestors in support of Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving toppled over barricades.
Brooklyn currently sits at 1-2 on the year following Sunday’s 111-95 loss to Charlotte, and has more to focus on than what’s happening outside of their home arena. Protests are normal, but the manner in which this transpired was not.
There’s a line between standing up for what you believe in and unnecessarily imposing harm on others, and these protesters seemingly did just that when they started to aggressively confront the arena security.
If what took place on Sunday prior to the game is an indication of what’s to come this season, it’s going to be a long year for this entire organization. That is, unless Irving decides to get vaccinated, which, at that point, he’ll be able to rejoin the team. It’s not looking like that’s the case, although NBA Commissioner Adam Silver appeared on TNT prior to the start of the regular season on Tuesday and urged Irving to reconsider his decision.
According to a New York mandate, those who are 12 and over have to be vaccinated in order to enter indoor premises. Technically, Kyrie could still join Brooklyn’s lineup for away games, but the Nets came to a conclusion that he had to be all in or all out. Since then, the team has made it clear that they’ve grown tired of discussing Irving’s vaccination status.
It’s hard to blame them. Irving is a 29-year-old adult capable of making his own decisions. Those decisions have consequences, which in this case means that he can’t perform his job. Brooklyn originally found a loophole that allowed Irving to practice, but that’s a thing of the past now that the organization has made its stance clear.
Irving has used his voice to speak out on Twitter and Instagram, remaining that he isn’t anti-vaccine, but that he wants to be a voice for those who have lost their jobs due to the mandate. He also said that he won’t retire, which is something that he had previously mentioned.
He hasn’t commented on what went down prior to Sunday’s game, but it may be a recurring theme. The Nets will play five more games at home before hitting the road, so hopefully the Barclays Center will be more prepared for what may come ahead of Monday’s game against the Washington Wizards.
There’s one thing for certain: the employees who show up to work don’t deserve to be assaulted or harassed by protestors. If Kyrie has said that he wants people to respect his decision, the protestors should respect those who are simply showing up to do their jobs. It goes both ways.