Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James violated the NBA’s health and safety protocols but will not face a 10- to 14-day quarantine away from the team.
James attended a promotional event for Lobos 1707 tequila, a spirit in which James is an investor.
“It’s a violation of the agreed upon protocols, and, as we have in other comparable instances around the league, it has been addressed with the team,” a league spokesman said.
The event was held outside and guests were required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 to test. The 10- to 14-day quarantine usually occurs when contact tracing shows a player was in close contact with a person who tested positive or that player visited an indoor club, bar or lounge. Other team personnel have violated health and safety protocols without being forced to stay away from the team.
In the league’s original health and safety protocols, it said “a player must notify his team at least three days in advance of any in-person appearance at any event with more than 25 attendees that is intended to fulfill such a commitment (e.g., to film an advertisement or promote a product activation). If the team has concerns with the sponsor’s safety protocols and/or the setting that the player has proposed to access in order to comply with such commitment, the team must inform the NBA for discussion between the NBA and NBPA regarding whether such activity and the particular protocols and/or setting are consistent with the Core Principles and, if they are not, necessary actions to reduce the risk of infection.”
In modified health and safety protocols sent to teams on March 17, the NBA said “a fully-vaccinated player is permitted to appear at an event to fulfill his individual commitment to a sponsor.”
James on Friday declined to say whether he received the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Anything I do off the floor is predicated to my family for the majority or 99.9% of that,” James said. “It’s about the health and safety of my family. That’s what it came down to. Being available to my teammates on the floor is about taking care of my body and me doing everything I can to make sure I’m available both mentally, physically and spiritually as well. But anything of that nature is all family talk.”
Whether he has received the vaccine, James said, “it’s not a big deal.”
The NBA and the NBA players union have not required players to take the COVID-19 vaccine, and both parties remain mindful that some Black players feel skeptical stemming from the unethical Tuskegee Syphilis Study. But the league and each team have addressed players about the vaccine’s effectiveness and the additional freedoms they can have after taking it. Once a team becomes 85% vaccinated among players, coaches and staff members, the league loosens up its protocols for that respective team.
ESPN first reported the news.