Dallas Mavericks forward Kristaps Porzingis has been fined $50,000 for attending a club on Sunday, May 23, in violation of the NBA's Health and Safety Protocols, the league announced Tuesday. The league's protocols do offer more freedoms to vaccinated players, but players are not allowed to go to clubs, bars or lounges regardless of vaccination status. His attendance was not deemed to be a risk in terms of spreading COVID-19 according to the medical experts that the league consulted, so he will not need to quarantine.
The obvious comparison to be drawn here is the violation committed by Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, who attended an event to promote a tequila brand he invests in last week. The NBA did not punish him, and he has played in both his team's play-in game against the Golden State Warriors and Game 1 of their series against the Phoenix Suns without incident. The NBA explained the difference between his violation and Porzingis' in a statement after issuing the fine, via The Athletic's Shams Charania.
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"While we understand the inclination to compare this incident to protocol violations by other players, including LeBron James, those facts are very different. LeBron briefly attended an outdoor event related to an individual commercial activity where everyone was either required to be vaccinated or return a negative COVID test. The league reviews each potential protocol violation on a case-by-case basis, and determines quarantines and imposes discipline based on the individual facts and circumstances of each matter."
Porzingis is slated to play in Game 2 of Dallas' series against the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday. This is not his first offense when it comes to COVID-19 rules. Last July, in the Orlando bubble, he missed a scrimmage because he missed a COVID test. The stakes are decidedly higher for playoff games, but fortunately for the Mavericks, Porzingis will only be fined.