Adam Silver addresses upcoming 2021-22 season, comments on Kyrie Irving's vaccination status

Published October 19, 2021, 8:15 AMAssociated Press

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver hopes Kyrie Irving makes the decision to get vaccinated and play with the Brooklyn Nets this season.

Adam Silver, the basketball fan, would prefer to see Kyrie Irving on the court again with the Brooklyn Nets as soon as possible.

Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner, would prefer to see Irving vaccinated.

Silver said Monday he hopes Irving — one of the few players in the league who has not yet chosen to be vaccinated — changes his mind before long and clears a path to get back on the floor with the Nets.

“I would like to see our players vaccinated, because I think it’s a public service of sorts, particularly to young people who might not see the value of getting vaccinated,” Silver said on the eve of the league’s 75th anniversary season, the third to be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Irving cannot play for the Nets in large part because of rules unique to New York and San Francisco requiring vaccinations as a prerequisite for working. The Nets said last week that Irving would not be involved in team activities “until he is eligible to be a full participant.”

And at this time, that means vaccinated. Silver would not disclose if he has spoken with Irving directly, but made his stance clear.

“There’s nothing fair about this virus,” Silver 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. That seems to be a responsible public-health decision.”

About 96% of NBA players have been vaccinated, Silver said. That means that about 20, or less than one per team on average, are not. Anyone working games in proximity to players this season, from referees to stat-crew employees, must be vaccinated by league mandate.

“I hope that Kyrie, despite how strongly he feels about the vaccination, ultimately decides to get vaccinated because I’d love to see him play basketball this season,” Silver said.

He also addressed several other matters pertaining to the upcoming season during Monday’s virtual media availability.

Silver said the league’s $10 billion revenue projection for 2021-22 is based on having full arenas all season. He said the league missed revenue projections by about 35% last season, largely because arenas were not filled for much of the year.

There still are no resolutions to league investigations into the sign-and-trade deals that sent Lonzo Ball to Chicago and Kyle Lowry to Miami this summer. The investigations are trying to determine if the Bulls or Heat broke league rules by making contact with the players before the NBA’s negotiating window opened.

Adding an in-season tournament, something Silver has sought for some time and models in part after what exists in European soccer, remains a viable possibility going forward. “I think we’re still in the process of formulating what would be the best proposal for all concerned,” Silver said.

Expansion will be a serious topic again, “at some point,” Silver said. Seattle is a city the league is eyeing, but the league won’t look at growing past the current 30 teams until it is “fully through the pandemic and know that we’re back operating on all cylinders.”