Nets briefly put Barclays Center on lockdown after protest for Kyrie Irving turns ugly

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Kyrie Irving was neither seen nor heard at the Brooklyn Nets' home opener on Sunday, but the effects of his decision to refuse to get vaccinated were on full display.

Ahead of the game, a large group of vaccine mandate protesters appeared outside the Barclays Center, demanding Irving be allowed to play NBA games again. Even though he is barred from only Nets home games due to New York protocols, the Nets have announced Irving will not play until the situation is resolved.

Wearing shirts reading slogans such as "Stand with Kyrie" and chanting "Let Kyrie play," the crowd soon turned aggressive and stormed past the barricades outside the arena.

Newsday's Barbara Barker reported the group included supporters of President Donald Trump and people with Black Lives Matter signs, while another source claimed to hear a reference to the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol.

The situation was ugly enough that the Nets shut down admission into the Barclays Center while trying to keep protesters out of the building, per Barker. The lockdown was ultimately brief, with Newsday's Greg Logan reporting minutes later that arena personnel and police got the situation under control and fans with tickets were being admitted again.

The Barclays Center later released a short statement confirming the lockdown:

"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. Only ticketed guests were able to enter the building and the game proceeded according to schedule."

The effects of Kyrie Irving's vaccine refusal

As the situation of his vaccine refusal has escalated, Irving has become a figure around which anti-vaccine mandate voices have rallied, garnering shows of support from several conservative figureheads, including Senator U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and Donald Trump Jr.

Current New York vaccine statutes require home players to be vaccinated to get on the court, which led to Irving missing the Nets' media day and preseason games. The Nets found a loophole so he could practice, but the team eventually decided it didn't want Irving playing if he was limited to only road games. It has also held off on any talks regarding a potential $186 million extension for the star point guard.

The repercussions of Irving's refusal to get vaccinated as his team begins its season have led to a predictable uproar even as the player himself has remained relatively quiet, limiting his statements to cryptic tweets and a single Instagram Live session in which he insisted he has no plans to retire.

Irving has tried to stress that he is not anti-vaccine and merely trying to be a "voice for the voiceless," as a member of his camp put it, but it seems the people behind him have plenty of voice if Sunday's events are any judge.

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