The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit most teams during the 2020-21 season, but with the availability and distribution of vaccines across the NBA has begun the process of easing its health and safety protocols.
Teams have opened their arenas back up to fans in a limited capacity, while the league is allowing traveling parties who have hit an 85% vaccination rate to do more activities on the road. Teams were confined to their hotels when playing on the road, so this is a major change as the playoffs begin.
The Los Angeles Lakers have largely been responsible when it comes to obeying the NBA’s health guidelines, but LeBron James recently broke protocols after attending an event with Drake and Michael B. Jordan. James was ultimately spared a suspension, and head coach Frank Vogel acknowledged that it did not bother he or the team, also adding that he expects the team to finally reach 85% on Monday.
“I had no reaction to it. He knows what he’s doing,” Vogel said. “We trust in his decision-making. All we did in terms of talking to our guys about it was just reminding them that as of Monday we expect to be a fully vaccinated team at 85 percent. Just reminding them of what the rules look like. We can eat outdoors, we can eat indoors. Those types of things.”
As far as the vaccination threshold, Vogel is hopeful the Lakers can get back to team-building off the floor when they meet it.
“I haven’t really dove into what that’s going to look like,” Vogel admitted. “I know our guys like to have team dinners, which they haven’t been able to do this year with the exception of restaurants at the hotel or things like that, but I envision those guys will be able to do more together in that type of setting. There’s not a great deal of difference. There are still restrictions but hope that our guys will have some team dinners.”
The Purple and Gold’s chemistry both on and off the floor has managed to keep them afloat during rough stretches, but it will be good for them to spend more time together on their off days. James is a large reason why the Lakers are so close-knit, so it will be interesting to see how they approach looser restrictions once their travel party hits the 85% vaccine rate.
Lakers will be road warriors for playoffs
Because the Lakers are the seventh seed, they will be starting off each playoff series on the road assuming they advance. Los Angeles has previously acknowledged they enjoy playing away from Staples Center, and that comfortability and confidence should play a part in their title defense.
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