Report: LeBron James Won't Be Suspended for Violating NBA's COVID-19 Protocols

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVMay 22, 2021

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 19: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the game against the Golden State Warriors during the 2021 NBA Play-In Tournament on May 19, 2021 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)
Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James reportedly won't be suspended after he violated the NBA's COVID-19 health and safety protocols this week when he attended a promotional event for Lobos 1707 Tequila.

ESPN's Dave McMenamin reported Saturday that James, an investor in the brand, went to a photoshoot alongside rapper Drake, actor Michael B. Jordan and others before the Lakers' play-in game against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday, which they won 103-100 thanks to a three from the four-time MVP inside the final minute.

"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.

It's unclear whether James faced any league or team punishment for the protocol violation, but he was allowed to play against the Warriors, and according to Bill Oram of The Athletic, his availability is not in question for Game 1 of the Lakers' first-round series against the Phoenix Suns on Sunday.

Per Oram, "The nature of the event—outdoors, testing/vax requirement plus no known exposure—make it a lesser violation."

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN confirmed James won't be suspended by the NBA after the violation.

All invitees to the event had to produce a COVID-19 vaccination card or proof of a negative test in order to take part, per McMenamin.

James hasn't commented on the matter.

He was limited to four appearances over the final two months of the regular season while recovering from a high-ankle sprain. It was part of an injury-plagued stretch for the Lakers, who played without Anthony Davis from Feb. 14 through April 22 because of calf and Achilles ailments.

L.A. was also without Dennis Schroder during the latter stages of the regular season as he sat out from April 30 through May 15 while going through the COVID-19 protocols.

All of those absences were a factor in the Lakers tumbling down the Western Conference standings and ending up in the play-in tournament. Their win over the Warriors earned them the No. 7 seed in the playoffs.

Meanwhile, James was asked Friday whether he'd received a COVID-19 vaccine to limit his chances of missing time during the playoffs because of the league's protocols. He declined to answer, saying that's a private family decision and "not a big deal":

"Anything I do off the floor is predicated to my family for the majority or 99.9 percent of that. It's about the health and safety of my family. That's what it came down to. Being available to my teammates on the floor is about taking care of my body and me doing everything I can to make sure I'm available both mentally, physically and spiritually as well. But anything of that nature is all family talk."

L.A. head coach Frank Vogel confirmed the team hasn't reached the 85 percent threshold necessary to loosen coronavirus restrictions but didn't elaborate beyond that, saying he's "hopeful" they hit the mark.

Tip off for Game 1 between the Lakers and Suns is set for Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC.