The NBA on Monday released a statement explaining why LeBron James was not subject to a quarantine period after he attended a promotional event two days before the Lakers’ play-in game vs. the Warriors.
NBA chief communications officer Mike Bass said the NBA declined to suspend James or subject him to a quarantine period because the event, which required guests to produce proof of vaccination or a return a negative COVID-19 test result, “did not create risks related to the spread of COVID-19.”
James was available for LA’s play-in game vs. Golden State on Wednesday, two days after he attended the event. He put up 22 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, not to mention the go-ahead 3 in the 103-100 win. Had the association suspended or forced James to quarantine, he would not have been available against Golden State — he might not have played in the Lakers’ second play-in game vs. the Grizzlies on Saturday, had they lost to the Warriors.
Here is the NBA’s full statement:
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Of particular interest in the statement is the final sentence, which stipulates that “vaccinated players are permitted to engage in outside activities.” James to this point has declined to say whether he is vaccinated, though reports indicate he is not.
Regardless, the statement matches what an NBA spokesperson told ESPN when the news initially broke that James violated NBA COVID-19 protocol. The move did not sit well with some observers, particularly TNT’s Charles Barkley, who claimed the association “ain’t got the balls to f—ing suspend LeBron James. Zero.”
As such, James was able to play in the Lakers’ opening-round game against the 2-seed Suns, putting up 18 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds in the 99-90 loss. He also resorted to theatrics in the match, helping create a scuffle in the process.
James and the Lakers will aim to even the series at 1-1 on Tuesday when they take on the Suns in Game 2. Tipoff is scheduled for 10 p.m. ET.