Los Angeles Lakers star forward LeBron James violated the NBA's health and safety protocols, but was not suspended for doing so ahead of his first-round series against the Phoenix Suns. 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 has not been suspended since the event didn't rise to a threat level of virus spread. The league explained as much in a press release Monday.
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"To clarify any remaining misconception, LeBron James briefly attended an outdoor event last week where participants were required to be vaccinated or return a negative test result. Under these circumstances and in consultation with medical experts, it was determined that his attendance did not create risks related to the spread of COVID-19 and therefore no quarantine was necessary. Over the course of this season, there have been numerous similar violations of the league's Health and Safety Protocols, which were addressed with the player's team in a similar fashion.
Under current NBA rules, vaccinated players are permitted to engage in outside activities including their individual commercial arrangements, such as sponsor appearances or ad shoots."
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 due to those protocols.
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 kicked off their first-round series against the Suns on Sunday, and James played in that game. This event will not impact his availability moving forward.