Protesters supporting benched Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving stormed past barricades outside the team’s home opener Sunday, prompting Barclays Center to "briefly" close its doors, the franchise said.
Supporters of Irving — a point guard who is one of the NBA's best-known unvaccinated players — could be seen pushing past metal barriers as security guards struggled to keep them from entering the arena in Brooklyn, NBC New York reported.
Video posted on social media showed others wearing “Stand With Kyrie” shirts and chanting “no more mandate,” a reference to New York City's vaccination requirements, which Irving ran afoul of. The rules require people to have had at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine before they enter restaurants, gyms and other venues.
It wasn’t immediately clear how many people attended Sunday's event, which was scheduled to start two hours before the Nets’ 4 p.m. tipoff against the Charlotte Hornets. Videos appeared to show dozens of supporters outside the arena and hundreds marching.
A spokesperson for the Nets said Barclays Center was briefly shuttered to clear protesters and ensure that only ticketed guests entered. The game started on time, the spokesperson said.
The team’s general manager said this month that Irving wouldn’t play or practice until “he is eligible to be a full participant.”
Irving has said he is “doing what’s best for me.”
“I know the consequences here, and if it means that I’m judged and demonized for that, that’s just what it is,” he said, according to NBC New York.
Irving didn’t immediately comment about the protest.