Protestors opposed to vaccine mandates tried to storm the doors at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Sunday before the start of an NBA game against the Charlotte Hornets, PIX11 reported.
The demonstrators arrived before Brooklyn’s home opener of the NBA season to support Nets star Kyrie Irving. The team has not allowed him to play or practice with them because he has refused to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Irving can’t play home games because of a New York City vaccination mandate, and the Nets decided he wouldn’t be part of the team at all until he could be a full participant, NBC New York reported.
“No vaccine mandate, Stand with Kyrie,” the protestors chanted as some held signs backing Irving’s stance, talkbasket.net reported.
As tipoff to the game drew closer, dozens of the protesters push past and over barricades outside the arena and made a rush for the doors as members of staff and security rushed to secure the area, according to NBC New York.
Earlier this month, Irving said on Instagram that he loved basketball and isn’t going to retire, but explained that “I am doing what’s best for me. I know the consequences here and if it means that I’m judged and demonized for that, that’s just what it is. That’s the role I play, but I never wanted to give up my passion, my love, my dream just over this mandate.”
Irving stressed that “I’m not retiring and no I’m not going and leaving this game like this.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said that 96 percent of NBA players have been vaccinated, meaning that about 20, or less than one per team on average, are not, NBC New York reported.
The NBA has ruled that anyone working games in proximity to players this season must be vaccinated.
Nets general manager Sean Marks said the team would welcome Irving back under the right circumstances.