The Brooklyn Nets need a little bit of help right now, and it looks like they're about to get some. According to The Athletic's Shams Charania, Kyrie Irving is expected to make his season debut on Wednesday when the Nets take on the Indiana Pacers.
Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving is expected to make his season debut Wednesday on the road against the Indiana Pacers, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. After missing the Nets’ first 35 games of the season, Irving has targeted Wednesday for his return.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 3, 2022
Irving missed the first 35 games of the season due to his decision to remain unvaccinated against COVID-19. In New York, all adults over age 12 must show proof of vaccination in order to attend indoor entertainment events. The Nets announced that Irving wouldn't be a part-time player and would sit out until either the mandate changed or Irving changed his mind.
At the start of the season, Irving wasn't even allowed to practice with the Nets. Their practice facility was first classified as an indoor gym, which meant that only vaccinated individuals could enter. But shortly after the season began it was reclassified as a private office building, which removed the vaccine mandate.
Even though the Nets said early on that Irving wouldn't be joining them for road games even if they were playing in a city without a New York-style mandate, it didn't last. They changed their tune in mid-December, saying that they would allow Irving to play on the road. Literally the next day, Irving entered the NBA's health and safety protocols and wasn't able to return to the team for 10 days.
Head coach Steve Nash said last week that Irving would need "a week or two" to ramp back up to playing strength. If Irving does indeed make his season debut Wednesday, he would have banked a full week of practice since returning from health and safety protocols.