The Brooklyn Nets began the home portion of their 2021-22 schedule on Sunday afternoon by playing host to the Charlotte Hornets at Barclays Center. The game, of course, is being played without Kyrie Irving, as the All-Star guard is sitting at home due to his decision to not comply with New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. While he could practice at the team’s facility and participate in most road games, the Nets made the decision that having Irving stay with the team in a part-time capacity wouldn’t be worth it.
Prior to the tip, a demonstration occurred outside of the arena that offered up support for Irving’s decision to actively make the Nets a worse basketball team. A number of individuals gathered at Barclays with anti-vaccine mandate and pro-Irving signs, with chants of “no vaccine mandate/stand with Kyrie” and “whose body/my body/whose choice/my choice” chants breaking out.
The scene outside Barclays Center where a group of protesters chant, “No vaccine mandate, Stand with Kyrie.” Several hold “Stand with Kyrie” signs. This is the Nets’ home opener. Kyrie Irving will be away from team until he complies with NYC vaccine mandate. pic.twitter.com/833DqYOLf7AdvertisementAdvertisement
— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) October 24, 2021
Really weird mix of people marching around with I stand with Kyrie signs. Kids with trump hats and people with Black Lives Matter shirts. pic.twitter.com/gJwX4k2aT3
— Barbara Barker (@meanbarb) October 24, 2021
At one point, some of the people leapt over barricades in an attempt to force their way into the arena, although their attempts to get in were not successful. As a result, Barclays Center was temporarily locked down.
Protesters just broke through barricades to Barclay’s Center, barricades thrown and security rushed to close the doors and people chanted “I’m with Kyrie” pic.twitter.com/IBx2qgUir0AdvertisementAdvertisement
— Scootercaster (@ScooterCasterNY) October 24, 2021
As of this writing, the Nets were not prevented from having the game go on as scheduled, and neither the team nor Irving has made any sort of statement regarding the demonstration.