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Kyrie Irving: Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash admits star will miss home games

On Friday, a New York City Hall official told CNN that Irving will be allowed to practice at the team’s facility but will not be eligible to play in the Nets’ home games at Barclays Center due to the city’s vaccine mandate.

The Nets are due to host their first home game of the 2021-22 NBA regular season on October 24 against the Charlotte Hornets, though Irving looks set to miss out.

“I think we recognize he’s not playing home games,” Nash told reporters on Sunday.

“We’re going to have to for sure play without him this year. So it just depends on when, where and how much.”

Irving, a seven-time All-Star, had spoken at the league’s media day last month of his excitement to play in front of fans again but refused to disclose his vaccination status, saying he “would like to keep all that private.”

“I know that I’ll be there every day no matter what and just be present for my teammates as one of the leaders on the team,” Irving said.

“I know the focus has to be at an all-time high, no distractions. This is the last thing I wanted to create, was more distractions and more hoopla and more drama around this.

“I’m doing my best to maintain this with good intentions and a good heart.”

The HSS Training Center — the Nets’ practice facility in Brooklyn — is viable for Irving to train at because it is considered a private workplace and subsequently not subject to New York City’s vaccination mandate, which prohibits NBA players from participating in home games if they are not vaccinated or exempt. The regulation does not apply to visiting players.

Listed as ineligible by the Nets, Irving was absent for Friday’s home preseason victory over the defending NBA champions, the Milwaukee Bucks.

Justin Robinson of the Bucks drives to the basket during the preseason game against the Nets.

Kevin Durant and James Harden both featured for the Nets, who ran out 119-115 winners in a repeat match-up of last season’s Eastern Conference semifinals.

Last season’s Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo did not feature for the champions — though the Greek will be set to play as part of a much stronger Bucks side when the two teams meet again for the season opener in Milwaukee on October 19.

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