Kyrie Irving’s Brooklyn Nets return appears to be just around the corner.
After missing the entirety of the season thus far due to his unwillingness to get the COVID-19 vaccine, Irving was permitted by the Nets to return on a part-time basis.
New York mandates prevent Irving from partaking in home games, but he will now be available to his team for road affairs.
During an appearance on the Pat McAfee Show on Wednesday, NBA insider Shams Charania revealed when he expects to see Irving back on the basketball court.
“The only place Kyrie Irving can’t play if he stays unvaccinated is New York City.. I’d look at him possibly returning January 5th in Indianapolis or January 12th in Chicago” ~@ShamsCharania#PatMcAfeeShowLIVE pic.twitter.com/BgiK85a3lw
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) December 22, 2021
“The only place Kyrie Irving, if he doesn’t go and get vaccinated, the only place he can’t play is New York City,” said Charania.
“So those games at the Garden and Barclays Center … I’d look at January 5th [against the Indiana Pacers] or January 12th [against the Chicago Bulls] as a possible return date for him.”
Not everyone is happy about the Nets’ decision to allow Irving to return on a part-time basis. ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith went off on the organization for the move just this week.
“I think it’s a horrible move,” he said. “I think it’s a disgraceful move. I think that Nets ownership is incredibly disappointing, and I think that the league should intervene.”
Paulina Gretzky knows how to celebrate a birthday right. https://t.co/luTTz3X5aB
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 21, 2021
The league, by all accounts, will not intervene. Irving has lost a lot of money over his decision to sit out. His relationship with the Nets’ front office worsened significantly. And his friendship with Kevin Durant has also become more fraught. He has paid a heavy toll.
That said, come January – he is going to have the opportunity to make things right.
If Irving ultimately guides the Nets to a championship, nobody will remember all the early season headaches he caused.