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Kyrie Irving 'excited' for full-time return; Nets await NYC vaccine mandate removal

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Kyrie Irving 'excited' for full-time return; Nets await NYC vaccine mandate removal
Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (R) missed the first 35 games this season due to his unvaccinated status. File Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 24 (UPI) -- NBA All-Star Kyrie Irving is "excited" for a full-time return to the Brooklyn Nets as New York City Mayor Eric Adams hinted the city could soon remove its COVID-19 vaccine mandate, coach Steve Nash said.

"Kyrie's been great on the practice floor," Nash told reporters Wednesday. "He's been great in film sessions. He's been creating dialogue over aspects of our play.

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"So, I sense a real focus and urgency from him. If that's any indication, I would say he is getting excited about the prospect of being allowed to play in all our games, and hopefully in the short term."

Irving, who is not vaccinated, is still only eligible to play in road games this season due to the New York City mandate. The mandate requires people in the city to show proof of vaccination to enter arenas, restaurants, gyms and other indoor spaces.

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Reporters asked Adams on Wednesday at a news conference if New York City, like other cities, has a plan to phase out those requirements. He said he meets every morning with health professionals and will "follow the science," but "can't wait to get it done."

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"I'm not going to get ahead of the science because I'm ready to get ahead of all of this and get back to a level of normalcy," Adams said.

"I look forward to the next few weeks going through a real transformation. We are moving in the right direction."

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The Nets initially said Irving could not be a part-time player and he was not allowed to play in any games, but reversed that decision in December. Irving missed the team's first 35 games and made his season debut in January.

Irving, 29, averaged 24.1 points, 5.4 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game in his 14 appearances this season. The Nets play three of their next five games at home.

The Nets (31-28) host the Boston Celtics (34-26) at 7:30 p.m. EST Thursday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

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