A group of anti-vaccination mandate protestors gathered outside of Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Sunday ahead of the Nets' home opener vs. the Hornets.
Some attempted to jump barricades placed in front of the building and push toward the arena's main entrance. Among the chants they voiced was, “No vaccine mandate. Stand with Kyrie.”
"Barclays Center briefly closed its doors today in order to clear protestors from the main doors on the plaza and ensure guests could safely enter the arena," a Barclays Center spokesperson said in a statement. "Only ticketed guests were able to enter the building and the game proceeded according to schedule."
Prior to this season, the Nets said that Irving, who is unvaccinated, would not play or practice with the team "until he is eligible to be a full participant."
As a result of a New York City mandate which requires proof of vaccination to enter indoor arenas, he is currently ineligible to play in Brooklyn home games in 2021–22 until he receives the COVID-19 vaccine.
Following news that he would be ineligible, Irving explained on Instagram live that he would continue to maintain his fitness until he regained eligibility.
“Nobody is gonna hijack my voice. Nobody is gonna take the power away from me that I have for speaking on these things," Irving said. "Don’t believe that I’m retiring. Don’t believe that I’m gonna give up this game for a vaccine mandate or staying unvaccinated. Don’t believe any of that s---, man. Be aware of what’s being said before I even get a chance to be on the podium and speak for myself.”
Brooklyn split its first two games of the season without Irving. Forward Kevin Durant also has said he remains hopeful that "things will work out best for both parties."
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