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Kyrie Irving Returns to the Brooklyn Nets, Part Time

In recent weeks, multiple N.B.A. teams have had to cancel practices, postpone games and place dozens of players in protocols as a result of rising cases. On Friday, the N.F.L. postponed three games as a result of outbreaks. Medical experts say the unvaccinated, like Irving, remain the most at risk from the coronavirus.

While 97 percent of N.B.A. players are vaccinated and the league has run advertisements promoting vaccines’ use, Irving is one of the league’s top stars and most visible vaccine holdout. His stance has made him a particular cause célèbre of conservatives in the United States, such as Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, who publicly praised Irving for holding out, and those who have spread vaccine misinformation.

Irving has not publicly discussed his unwillingness to receive the vaccine. He has developed a penchant for dipping into controversy throughout his career, such as suggesting a serious belief that the Earth is flat.

When Irving was signed by Brooklyn in the summer of 2019, he was made a key face of the franchise along with his close friend Kevin Durant. Two years later, the anti-vaccine movement did the same, even protesting on his behalf in front of Barclays before this season’s home opener.

Both Marks and the Nets owner Joe Tsai were publicly steadfast in saying Irving would not be allowed to take the floor part time for the Nets unless he was vaccinated to comply with the city’s mandate. Tsai told ESPN in October, “It is just not tenable for us to have a team with a player that comes in and out, no home games, only away games.”

That same month, Marks told reporters, “Our focus, our coaches’ focus and our organization’s focus needs to be on those players that are going to be involved here and participating fully,” adding, “This is a choice that Kyrie had, and he was aware of that.”

On Friday, Marks changed his tune, saying, “We look forward to Kyrie’s return to the lineup, as well as getting our entire roster back together on the court.”

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