Kyrie Irving played in his first home game of the season after New York City expanded its Covid-19 vaccine exemption

    Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving played in his first home game of the season Sunday after New York expanded exemptions to its Covid-19 vaccine mandate.

    (CNN)Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving made his first appearance of the season on the team's home court Sunday after being sidelined by a Covid-19 vaccine mandate.

    Irving racked up 16 points and 11 assists in the Nets' 119-110 loss to the Charlotte Hornets at the Barclays Center.
    His return to the hardwood in Brooklyn came after New York Mayor Eric Adams announced Thursday he would allow New York-based professional athletes and performers to be exempt from the city's vaccine mandate for workers.
      The policy kept Irving, a seven-time All-Star guard who chose not to receive a Covid-19 vaccine, from playing in 35 home games the Nets have played since the NBA season began in October. He has been playing with the team on the road.
        "I don't take it for granted what happened tonight. It was historic and I'm grateful that I got a chance to be out there with my brothers and just leave it all out there," Irving said after the game.
        Irving has been able to attend games at the Barclays Center as a spectator, but his presence in the home locker room at a game earlier this month saw the Nets hit with a $50,000 fine for "violating local New York City law and league health and safety protocols."
        The Nets have seven remaining games in the NBA regular season, five of which will be played at the Barclays Center. The team's next home game is Tuesday against the Detroit Pistons.
          Adams said he expanded the vaccine exemption in part because the city's economy -- including vendors and businesses that surround the city's venues -- thrives best when all its stars attract people to those places. The city's multibillion-dollar tourism industry, he said, was still suffering from losses caused by the pandemic.
          He also said he was doing it out of fairness -- to put New York City-based performers "on a level playing field" with visiting performers, who were already exempt from the mandate, and because the city is now a "low-risk (Covid-19) environment."
          "We're not doing it because there are pressures to do it. We're doing it because the city has to function," Adams said Thursday.
          The expansion of vaccine exemptions means all New York Yankees and Mets players can participate in their home openers next month regardless of their Covid-19 vaccination status.
          Details about how many Yankees and Mets have not received a Covid-19 vaccine weren't immediately available.
          At Thursday's news conference, Yankees president Randy Levine said a "few" of his team's players were unvaccinated.
          "You're going to have to live with 'few,' and I can't give you individuals," Le