Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James reportedly violated the NBA’s health and safety protocols earlier this week when he opted to attend a promotional event for Lobos 1707, a tequila brand that he backs.
According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, a league spokesperson confirmed to him on Friday night that James’ attendance at the party constituted a “breach” of safety rules.
“It’s a violation of the agreed upon protocols, and, as we have in other comparable instances around the league, it has been addressed with the team,” the spokesperson said.
Past violations of the NBA’s health and wellness protocols have led to suspensions of up to 14 days. Given that the Lakers are set to tip off Game 1 of their first-round playoff series against the Phoenix Suns on Sunday, this could quickly spiral into a serious problem for all parties involved.
Complicating matters even further is James’ questionable COVID-19 vaccination status.
In the past, it has been suggested by Dennis Schroder that he and James are the only two unvaccinated Lakers at this juncture.
Translation from a German article with an Interview with Dennis Schröder:
“Nearly the whole team is vaccinated – only LeBron and I are not, I think.”
“I can’t go into quarantine again, if that happens now, I‘ll miss a whole round in the playoffs. I can’t live with that” pic.twitter.com/heNvJtfFQG
— Deandre Hayton (@YCSNOW23) May 3, 2021
Anthony Davis reacted strongly to this, but it’s unclear whether anything was actually done about it.
This past week, Lakers coach Frank Vogel said that his team had not yet hit the 85 percent vaccination threshold the NBA demands in order for health and safety rules to be lessened – implying that two members of the squad remain unvaccinated.
On Friday, James was asked point blank by Kyle Goon of the OC Register whether he had been vaccinated.
“Hey LeBron, I know you’ve talked about how your availability for this team in the postseason is a huge factor for the team’s success,” he said. “I was wondering if that value affected the way you thought about the COVID-19 vaccine and being available, not being in protocols?”
James proceeded to talk his way around the inquiry.
“Nah,” he replied.
“Anything I do off the floor is predicated to my family for the majority — 99.9% of that. So, it’s about the health and safety of my family, and that’s what it came down to. Me being available to my teammates on the floor is me taking care of my body, me doing everything I can to make sure I’m available both mentally, physically, and spiritually, as well. But anything of that nature, that’s all family talk.”
Goon then followed up.
“And do you mind me asking if you’re confirming that you did get the vaccine?” he asked.
James brushed the question off once more.
“Uh, it’s not, it’s not a big deal,” James replied with a chuckle.
— Game 7 (@game7__) May 21, 2021
Between the questionable status of James’ ankle, controversial eye injury he sustained this week, and the overall rough run he has been over the past couple of months – the absolute last thing he needs right now is to be suspended for the Lakers’ opening round series against Phoenix.
That said, rules are rules.
Will the NBA choose to enforce them against James? An answer should come within the next 24 hours.