LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James violated NBA health and safety protocols this week, a league spokesperson told ESPN Friday night.
James will not be suspended, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, as the nature of the event did not reach a threat level of spreading the virus.
James was one of several high-profile guests in attendance at a promotional event for a tequila brand he endorsed earlier this week ahead of the Lakers’ play-in game against the Golden State Warriors.
The tequila was served in a short outdoor photoshoot, and guests, including artist Drake and actor Michael B. Jordan, had to present proof of vaccination or a recent negative test result in order to attend.
Even with those measures, James, who declined to say whether he received the COVID-19 vaccine, was in violation of the league’s health and safety protocols.
“It is a violation of agreed protocols and, as we have done in other comparable cases in the league, it was addressed with the team,” a league spokesperson told ESPN on Friday.
According to league protocols, players who do not follow the rules are subject to warnings, fines or suspensions. Players who repeatedly violate the rules could be subject to more severe discipline.
James and the No. 7-seeded Lakers will play the Western Conference-seeded No. 2 Phoenix Suns in Game 1 of their first-round series on Sunday (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN Deportes ).
Despite being the lowest seeded, LA is on a six-game winning streak heading into the series against the Suns, with James back on the court for the last three wins after missing 26 of the Lakers’ 28 games. prior to that due to an ankle injury.
Several weeks ago, James explained his thought process behind stopping playing extra games down the stretch, saying, “At the end of the day, if I’m not 100% or close to 100%, it doesn’t matter where we land. [ en la clasificación]”.
With that reasoning in mind, a reporter asked James on Friday if the consequences of being placed in the league’s health and safety protocols during the playoffs (potentially not being available to teammates for 10-14 days) it affected your decision to seek the vaccine.
“Everything I do off the court is up to my family, for the majority, for 99.9% of that,” James said. “So it’s about my family’s health and safety, that’s already down to that.
“Being available to my teammates on the court is taking care of my body. I do everything I can to make sure I am available both mentally, physically and spiritually as well. But anything of that nature, that’s all in the family.”
When the reporter asked James directly if he had received the vaccine, he replied, “It’s not a big deal,” laughing briefly after giving his answer.
The vague answer was consistent with what James said during All-Star weekend when first asked about his plans for the vaccine.
“That’s a conversation my family and I will have,” he said in March. “I’ll keep it private.”