LeBron James Cleared to Play After False Positive Covid Test

The Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James has been cleared to play in the team’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday after a false positive coronavirus test landed him in the N.B.A.’s health and safety protocols earlier this week, the league said in a news release.

After initially testing positive on Tuesday, James returned two negative tests, 24 hours apart, administered by league officials. That enabled him to be taken out of the league’s health and safety protocols, according to the league.

In keeping with their enhanced coronavirus protocols after Thanksgiving, N.B.A. officials collected a sample to test on Monday and received a positive result on Tuesday. They used another instrument to test the same sample, and that test returned an inconclusive result. Consequently, James was placed into the league’s health and safety protocols.

James had been with the Lakers in Sacramento, where they were set to play the Kings on Tuesday night. The team arranged for a medical plane to take James back to Los Angeles, according to a person familiar with James’s situation.

James’s teammates were concerned about him.

“Scary situation,” the Lakers’ Anthony Davis said. “He said he’s good. I think he said he was asymptomatic, which is a good sign, but we want to make sure he gets back. Health is most important. It’s bigger than basketball. He has a family.”

Despite testing positive, James never believed he had the coronavirus and consulted a doctor who conducted multiple P.C.R. tests at James’s home that were all negative, according to the person familiar with James’s situation.

James posted a tweet on Wednesday that included five emojis of fish, including one hanging from a fishing hook. Many interpreted the tweet as implying he thought something unusual was happening with his coronavirus testing.

James said before the season that he was vaccinated against Covid-19. Vaccinated players have been tested much less often than unvaccinated players this season. But given the higher chance players might have been exposed to the virus during Thanksgiving gatherings, the N.B.A. increased testing requirements for vaccinated players, according to a memo obtained by The New York Times. All players were required to be tested on Nov. 28, 29 and 30.

The false positive caused James to miss the Lakers’ game Tuesday against the Kings — the 12th game he has missed this season. He has missed 10 games because of injuries and one because of a suspension.

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