Lakers' LeBron James Discusses NBA's Stricter COVID-19 Protocols

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJanuary 13, 2021

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James reacts during a stop in play in the third quarter against the Houston Rockets in an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Houston. (Troy Taormina/Pool Photo via AP)
Troy Taormina/Associated Press

With a number of players in the health and safety protocol amid the COVID-19 pandemic and games being postponed left and right, the NBA released new and stricter coronavirus protocols this week. 

Among other requirements, road teams are now limited to spending time at the hotel or arena; no guests are allowed in hotel rooms; home teams are limited to being at their homes, practice facilities or the arenas; no guests are allowed at their homes; additional mask-wearing requirements have been introduced; players cannot shake hands or hug after games.

For LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, however, the new rules won't be much of an adjustment. 

"For our team, we live in L.A. County," James told reporters Tuesday. "[The new rules] are pretty much everything we've been doing since March of last year."

What James doesn't want to see, however, is another bubble like the one the NBA successfully pulled off at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, to conclude the 2019-20 regular season and playoffs. 

"Well the bubble was a success from a performance standpoint as far as our league getting back on," he told reporters. "I haven't thought about the bubble much after I left. You continue to give me PTSD every time you ask me about the bubble. I started shaking thinking about 96 straight nights in that place."

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The bubble was a success on a limited basis. But expecting players and coaches to quarantine away from their families and homes for an entire season would have been an enormous ask, and players like James don't seem keen.

Until the league's players and coaches can be vaccinated, however, the NBA may continue to see teams forced to play with limited rosters or see a number of games postponed. That also isn't ideal, though introducing travel between cities—and individual players perhaps not taking the protocols seriously—may make it inevitable to a point.