Like most teams during the 2020-21 season, the Los Angeles Lakers were affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Marc Gasol contracted the virus and missed several weeks of action, while Dennis Schroder was placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols on two separate occasions. However, the Lakers are now fully healthy and appear to be rounding into form as the first round of the 2021 NBA playoffs tips off.
LeBron James is working his way back from a high ankle sprain but also discussed whether or not getting the COVID-19 vaccine played a part in making himself available. “Nah. Anything I do off the floor is predicated to my family for the majority, 99.9 percent of that,” explained James.
“So it’s about 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 mentally, physically and spiritually as well. So anything of that nature, that’s all family talk.”
While it sounded like James received it, he decided to play it coy instead when asked if that’s the case by saying “It’s not a big deal.”
It turns out this could be important as Dave McMenamin of ESPN is reporting that James recently violated the league’s health and safety protocols by attending an event for his tequila company Lobos 1707 with Drake, Michael B. Jordan and other stars:
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James was found to be in breach of the NBA’s health and safety protocols this week, a league spokesperson told ESPN on Friday night.
“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,” a league spokesman told ESPN on Friday.
It remains to be seen if James will face any discipline, which obviously wouldn’t be ideal just one day before the start of the postseason. The wording of “it has been addressed with the team” perhaps makes it seem like he could’ve just received a warning, but there is no doubt that more information will come out on this before the Lakers take the court on Sunday against the Suns.
James’ answer regarding the vaccine might raise eyebrows considering how sensitive the topic has been among NBA circles, but it is still up to each player’s discretion. Anthony Davis was one of the few Lakers who admitted to getting the vaccine, citing his desire to do his part during the pandemic.
Just because James didn’t reveal to the public if he took the vaccine doesn’t mean he and the others at the event didn’t, and maybe that is what’s keeping him from receiving discipline although only time will tell.
Vogel admits Lakers travel party has not hit 85% vaccination rate
The NBA is allowing relaxed protocols on road trips if teams’ traveling parties hit an 85% vaccination rate. Head coach Frank Vogel admits that the Lakers have not hit that threshold.
“We have not reached it yet, but we’re still hopeful and I think there’s obvious benefits from the standpoint of us being able to do more things with each other in the cities that we’re going to,” Vogel said. “It’s been absent leaguewide in terms of team building and team bonding.
“For all of us, it’s been a challenge. So if we ever reach that threshold then obviously we can do more.”
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