Los Angeles Lakers star forward LeBron James has entered the N.B.A.’s coronavirus health and safety protocols, the team announced Tuesday.
James missed the team’s game Tuesday night against the Sacramento Kings and would likely miss at least 10 days if he is in the protocols because he tested positive for the coronavirus. The Lakers have yet to confirm that James has tested positive, but after the game James’s teammate Anthony Davis made comments that indicated that was the case.
“He said he’s good,” Davis told reporters. “I think he’s asymptomatic which is a good sign. We want to make sure that he gets back. Health is most important. It’s bigger than basketball.”
Lakers Coach Frank Vogel told reporters before the game that he found out Tuesday morning that James had entered the health and safety protocols. Vogel said the team arranged for James to get “back to L.A. safely.”
James, 36, said before the season that he had been vaccinated against Covid-19.
Typically, players who are vaccinated face less stringent requirements than unvaccinated players. After Thanksgiving, though, the league implemented enhanced testing requirements even for vaccinated players, according to documents sent by league officials to each of the 30 teams. They did so with the expectation that the holiday would increase players’ potential exposure to the virus.
Under the current guidelines, James would be forced to sit out for at least 10 days unless he was able to return multiple negative results for the virus.
“We just want the best for him right now,” Vogel said. “That’s where our thoughts are. We have a next man up mind-set. It’s an 82-game season. You got to deal with guys being in and out of the lineup. We’ve been without him some already this season.”
Tuesday’s game was the 12th James has missed this season. He missed 10 because of ankle and abdominal injuries. He also missed the Lakers’ game against the Knicks earlier this month after being suspended for the first time in his 19-season career.