Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving has been noticeably absent from the court since January 5th. Now, days after video emerged of him at a birthday party, he has been fined $50,000 for violating the NBA's COVID-19 rules and must forfeit more than $800,000 of his salary for games missed due to quarantine.
The Nets reportedly signed a $136 million contract with Irving in 2019.
After Irving missed the Nets game on January 8th, coach Steve Nash said, "I messaged with Ky [Thursday]. I’m just going to keep [the conversation] between us... It was a personal matter, so we’re going to keep it personal, and respect privacy." Media reports citing anonymous sources said Irving was upset about the raid on the U.S. Capitol as well as the Breonna Taylor case. The officers who killed Taylor—and were not charged in her death—were fired on January 6th.
However, this week the Nets announced they were investigating Irving's maskless presence at a "family gathering." Both his father and sister recently celebrated birthdays, and a video circulated showing Irving at a club in New Jersey, according to TMZ.
The NBA announced the fine on Friday:
However, Nash believes that the latest addition to the Nets, James Harden, may also play on Saturday.
Harden's arrival was announced on Wednesday, in a blockbuster three-way trade with Harden's former team, the Houston Rockets, and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Nets sent Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince to Cleveland, while Caris LeVert and Rodions Kurucs plus three first-round draft picks to Houston.
At the start of the pandemic, the NBA was the first professional sports league in the U.S. to suspend its season, only to resume games in a "bubble" at Disney World. This season, teams are playing at home, without crowds, in spite of surging cases and COVID-19 being highly transmissible in close-contact situations with aerobic activity—such as playing basketball without masks.
After a number of cases during the first few weeks of the new season, the NBA and the NBA Players' Association agreed on further coronavirus health and safety measures on Tuesday, including masks being worn on the bench; limiting meetings to 10 minutes with all attendees masked; and remaining at homebound "except to attend team-related activities at the team facility or arena, exercise outside, or perform essential activities, or as a result of extraordinary circumstances."