Group protesting vaccine mandate shows Kyrie Irving support ahead of Brooklyn Nets' home opener

NEW YORK -- A group of protesters gathered outside Barclays Center waving flags and signs while chanting, "No vaccine mandate, stand with Kyrie" before the Brooklyn Nets lost their home opener to Charlotte Hornets 111-95 on Sunday.

Around 100 people stood in the plaza outside the arena and on the street blocking traffic on Flatbush Avenue, many showing their support for Nets point guard Kyrie Irving's decision not to get at least one vaccination shot to comply with New York City's mandate in order to play home games.

At one point, a few of the protesters pushed barriers and got to the front entrance of Barclays before being held off by security. There was also plenty of police presence in front of Barclays.

"Barclays Center briefly closed its doors today in order to clear protestors from the main doors on the plaza and ensure guests could safely enter the arena," a Barclays Center spokesperson said in a statement. "Only ticketed guests were able to enter the building and the game proceeded according to schedule."

Irving has not played in any of the Nets' three games thus far after the organization decided not to have its point guard be a part-time player able to play only in road games. The Nets have said they will welcome Irving back once he complies with the city's mandate.

The group of demonstrators, some with megaphones, chanted "My body, my choice" and held signs that read "Stand with Kyrie." The arena was not even half full at the start of the afternoon game and there were lines of fans outside the building.

During an Instagram Live session, Irving explained his decision to remain unvaccinated nearly two weeks ago.

"I chose to be unvaccinated, and that was my choice, and I would ask you all to just respect that choice," Irving said. "I am going to just continue to stay in shape, be ready to play, be ready to rock out with my teammates and just be part of this whole thing. This is not a political thing; this is not about the NBA, not about any organization. This is about my life and what I am choosing to do."