Comedy Central host Trevor Noah slammed New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate policies Wednesday after Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving was allowed to attend a game against the New York Knicks as a fan, but not as a player or employee because of his decision to remain unvaccinated.
New York City on March 7 lifted its indoor vaccination requirement and mask mandates at for businesses and schools, but laws remain in effect that prevent Irving from playing in games at the Barclays Center under a vaccine mandate for New York City-based workers who perform in-person work.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) fined the Nets $50,000 for “violating New York City law and league health and safety protocols” at Sunday’s game after Irving entered the locker room, which he was not allowed to do under the city’s rules.
During a segment on Monday’s “The Daily Show,” Noah mocked NYC’s vaccine mandate rules.
“Restrictions are being lifted so quickly, that things are getting a little confusing, you know. Like for example, OK, right here in New York City, Mayor Eric Adams has lifted the rule that you have to be vaccinated to attend indoor events. OK, that is gone. But there is still a rule that you have to be vaccinated to go to your workplace.”
“So if someone’s job is at an indoor event, they can’t go to work, but they can show up to work to watch their colleagues do their thing. Yeah. Which is exactly what happened this weekend,” Noah said, before playing a clip of a news segment on Irving buying a ticket to watch his own team play from the stands.
Noah also showed a clip of Irving hugging his teammates, highlighting the contradictory nature of vaccine mandates which prohibit him from playing but allow him to be in the arena as a guest in close proximity to vaccinated players.
“Yeah, guys, I don’t care like how COVID-compliant you are, s**t like this makes zero sense. Can we agree on that?” Noah said. “So Kyrie can go inside, not wear a mask, even hug a teammate, but he cannot play!”
“I don’t get it. Why? Does the ball have a weak immune system? What’s going on? I mean it’s crazy, just think about it, Kyrie can’t play, but he can sit in the stands, right, like a fan. And, then, as a fan, what happens if he gets picked to take the half-court shot to win the car? Can he do that? What are those rules, how does it work?” he joked.
Nets forward Kevin Durant called the policy that allowed Irving to be a fan but not a player “ridiculous,” adding it’s something the mayor, Eric Adams, needs to “figure out.”
During a post-game interview, Durant said:
“It’s ridiculous. I don’t understand it at all. There’s a few people in our arena that’s unvaxxed, right? They lifted all of that in our arena, right? So I don’t get it … I don’t get it. It just feels like at this point now, somebody’s trying to make a statement or a point to flex their authority. But everybody out here is looking for attention and that’s what I feel like the mayor wants right now, is some attention. But he’ll figure it out soon. He better.
“But it just didn’t make any sense. There’s unvaxxed people in this building already. We got a guy who can come in the building, I guess, are they fearing our safety? I don’t get it. We’re all confused. Pretty much everybody in the world is confused at this point. Early on in the season people didn’t understand what was going on, but now it just looks stupid. So hopefully, Eric, you got to figure this out.”
During a public appearance on Sunday, Adams responded to a heckler who encouraged him to let Irving play: “Listen, you’re right. Kyrie can play tomorrow: Get vaccinated.”
Adams expressed support for Irving but made clear that he’s unwilling to make an exception for the NBA player, The New York Times reported.
Adams said last month the rule preventing Irving from playing was “unfair,” as it allowed unvaccinated visiting team players to play but not Irving. However, he said changing the rule now would send “mixed messages.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told ESPN last month the rule “doesn’t quite make sense.”
Irving had the biggest game of his life on Tuesday when the 29-year-old guard dropped 60 points en route to his team’s 150-108 win over the Orlando Magic. He now holds the Nets’ franchise record for points in a single game. Irving’s performance tied an NBA record for most 50-point games in a single calendar month — even with having to sit on the sidelines because of his choice to remain unvaccinated.