By BRIAN MAHONEY
AP Basketball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Demonstrators supporting Nets guard Kyrie Irving and protesting New York’s vaccine mandate gathered outside Barclays Center before Brooklyn’s home opener. A few dozen people were protesting in the plaza outside the arena. Some were chanting “Let Kyrie play! Let Kyrie play!” and holding signs that said “Stand with Kyrie.” A small group even broke through barriers and got all the way to the front entrance of the arena. Irving is not with the Nets because of his refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19. A New York mandate requires professional athletes playing for a team in the city be vaccinated in order to play or practice in public venues.