The Los Angeles Lakers clinched the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference playoffs earlier this week with their thrilling win over the Golden State Warriors in the play-in tournament. While it is never a shock to see the Lakers in the headlines, especially during the postseason, LeBron James made a bit of news on Friday night that the franchise probably could have lived without.
James had violated the NBA’s health and safety protocols by attending an event earlier in the week for a tequila brand that he backs, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. While we have seen plenty of instances over the course of the season where players who violate the league’s protocols are subsequently removed from the lineup for a period of time, this won’t be the case for James as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports the Lakers star will face a suspension for his breach.
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Naturally, this raised a bit of a debate within the basketball world concerning whether or not there is a different set of rules for a player the caliber of James and, wouldn’t you know it, “NBA on TNT” analyst Charles Barkley had quite the opinion on the matter. During an interview with Yahoo, Barkley made it clear that the NBA would never force James to sit out on the league’s biggest stage.
“If it was a nobody, they would put him in health and safety protocols. Ain’t no f—— way LeBron James is going to be sit out because of health and safety protocols,” Barkley stated. “When I read that, I just started laughing. LeBron James is playing Sunday. Guaranteed.”
While Barkley doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to his guarantees, it’s hard to imagine he will be wrong on this one as LeBron and the Lakers are scheduled to open up their series with the Phoenix Suns in a nationally televised game on Sunday afternoon. Tip time is 3:30 p.m. ET.