Kyrie Irving Says He's Excited to Finally Make Home Debut for Nets: ‘I’ve Been Pinching Myself’
Kyrie Irving, the Brooklyn Nets star, will be allowed to play at the Barclays Center on Sunday after New York City Mayor Eric Adams lifted its private sector vaccination mandate on Thursday.
Irving spoke with ESPN about playing his first game at the Barclays Center this season, as well as his hopes for signing a long-term contract this summer.
“Please take my comment seriously when I say I’ve been pinching myself since Wednesday and Thursday because there was a time where I got my hopes really, really high and all the air just got let out,” Irving said. “I didn’t want to get too excited. Still tonight, I’m trying to stay focused on this game. But I know tomorrow will eventually come and I’m looking forward to playing back in Brooklyn.”
Irving says he's focused on the "long run" now that vaccine mandate is behind him.
“To be honest, I signed up for this for the long run,” Irving explained. “I love this year. I’m grateful. It has not been the prototypical year. But when I look at my teammates and I look at what we have as an organization. I’m looking for the long run and what we can do, legacy talk.”
The All-Star point guard said that he does not plan on leaving Brooklyn when his contract ends this summer.
“For me, it has always been about being comfortable and loving where I’m at. I love it here,” Irving said. “Once that summertime hits, I know we’ll have some conversations but there’s no way I could leave my man 7 anywhere.”
Irving has been unable to play in any of the Nets' home games this season because of the city's vaccine policy, which requires people to have at least one shot of the vaccine before they can enter an indoor gym. Even so, he has seen a few games in Barclays Center since the mandate was lifted, including a matinee against the Knicks earlier this month, where the Nets were fined $50,000 by the NBA for "violating New York City law and league health and safety protocols" by allowing Kyrie to enter the locker room after the game.