Los Angeles Lakers star forward LeBron James violated the NBA’s health and safety protocols, but will not face suspension ahead of Sunday’s series opener against the Phoenix Suns, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. James attended a promotional event earlier in the week for Lobos 1707, a tequila brand that he backs, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. This event took place before the Lakers played against the Golden State Warriors in the play-in tournament. The league and the Lakers were made aware of the situation, but James reportedly won’t be suspended since the event didn’t rise to a threat level of virus spread.
“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. Health and safety protocol violations this season can lead to absences as long as 14 days. Teammate Dennis Schroder, who recently confirmed that he has not been vaccinated, missed seven games recently due to those protocols.
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The event in question took place outside and required proof of either vaccination or a recent negative test. James has not confirmed whether or not he has been vaccinated, and when asked in March, said “That’s a conversation my family and I will have,” before adding “I’ll keep that to a private thing.”
As McMenamin points out in his story, Lakers coach Frank Vogel said Friday that the Lakers roster had not yet reached the 85 percent vaccination threshold necessary to earn extra freedoms within the protocols. The Lakers would need 15 of their 17 players vaccinated to get there, so at least one player aside from Schroder must not be vaccinated.
The Lakers are set to kick off their first-round series against the Suns on Sunday, and the good news for them is that James will be available for Game 1.