NBA: Lakers’ LeBron James Attending Outdoor Event Didn’t Create COVID-19 Risks

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVMay 24, 2021

PHOENIX, AZ - MAY 23: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the game against the Phoenix Suns during Round 1, Game 1 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on May 23, 2021 at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. 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 Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)
Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

The NBA released a statement Monday addressing LeBron James' violation of the league's health and safety protocols.

ESPN's Dave McMenamin first reported the Los Angeles Lakers star attended a promotional event for a tequila brand in the days before the team's play-in game against the Golden State Warriors on May 19. Drake and Michael B. Jordan were among those at the event.

NBA chief communications officer Mike Bass followed up Monday to say the four-time MVP "briefly attended an outdoor event last week where participants were required to be vaccinated or return a negative test result."

NBA Communications @NBAPR

NBA Statement: pic.twitter.com/WBdU6vdR4Q

Upon looking into the matter more, the NBA determined James didn't need to quarantine away from his team because "it was determined that his attendance did not create risks related to the spread of COVID-19."

Speaking with reporters last week, James declined to specify whether he had received the COVID-19 vaccine and said, "It’s not a big deal."

The NBA ended Monday's statement by saying that players who have received the vaccine are afforded more latitude in terms of taking part in events and activities away from the court, including sponsor appearances and ad shoots.

Baxter Holmes @Baxter

Here’s the infographic distributed to NBA teams that details the eased restrictions for vaccinated individuals and vaccinated teams: https://t.co/uSuMVkP4cR pic.twitter.com/7uOY4ugjUg

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports was among those to infer the statement confirmed James' vaccination status.

Bass also alluded to "similar violations ... which were addressed with the player's team in a similar fashion."

The timing of McMenamin's report raised some eyebrows as it came on the eve of Los Angeles' first-round playoff series with the Phoenix Suns. James would've missed multiple games and potentially the majority of the series if he had had to fulfill a quarantine of at least 10 days.

Instead, the 17-time All-Star took the court and finished with 18 points, 10 assists and seven steals in a 99-90 defeat in Game 1.

The Lakers will look to even things up Tuesday night in Game 2.