Lakers' LeBron James 'Frustrated' That COVID-19 Testing Process 'Handled Very Poorly'

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVDecember 4, 2021

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) looks on against the Sacramento Kings during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Friday, Nov. 26, 2021. The Kings won 141-137 in triple overtime. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James detailed his frustration with the NBA's COVID-19 testing protocols after returning from a one-game absence in Friday's loss to the rival Los Angeles Clippers.

James, who missed Tuesday's game against the Sacramento Kings because of a positive test that followed a negative test earlier that day, told reporters he felt the situation was "handled very poorly:"

"Usually when you have a positive test, they'll test you right away to make sure. There was not a follow-up test after my positive test. It was straight to isolation and you've been put into protocol. That's the part that kind of angered me. I had to figure out a way to get home from Sacramento by myself.
"They wouldn't allow anyone to travel with me, no security, no anything, when I traveled back from Sacramento. And then I had to put my kids in isolation for the time being, the people in my household in isolation for the time being, so it was just a big-time inconvenience. That was the anger part."

James' first sign of discontent came Wednesday on Twitter:

LeBron James @KingJames

🤔Something is REAL 🐠 🐟 🎣 🐟🐠 going on

The NBA announced Thursday the four-time MVP was cleared to face the Clippers after producing two negative test results 24 hours apart following a series of "conflicting" results that led to his placement in the league's COVID-19 protocols.

James produced eight negative tests after his return to L.A. from Sacramento, per ESPN's Dave McMenamin. The 17-time All-Star sidestepped a question Friday about whether he'd received or had plans to receive a vaccine booster shot.

"No, this process ... we've all been doing exactly what the protocols have told us to do and taking the tests and things of that nature," he said. "It's unfortunate when you get a false positive and you get put right into isolation. That's just the unfortunate part. But we'll see what happens."

Despite the concerns raised by the NBA's longtime gold standard, the league is preparing to further enhance its testing regiment in the coming weeks.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported players who don't receive a booster shot before Dec. 17 will be subject to game-day testing. Other team personnel must get their booster or they'll no longer be able to interact with players.

The changes come amid rising concern about the potential impact of the Omicron variant.

Meanwhile, James recorded 23 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and two steals across 36 minutes in his return to action. It wasn't enough as the Clippers secured a 119-115 victory.

The Lakers (12-12) are off until Tuesday, when they'll host the Boston Celtics (12-11) at Staples Center.