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LeBron James avoided discipline for attending a promotional event for a tequila company he invested in, and, as the NBA explained, it was because attendees needed to have a negative COVID test or have received the coronavirus vaccine.
Fans raised eyebrows when the NBA fined Dallas Mavericks star Kristaps Porzingis for violating the league’s health and safety protocols earlier this week.
“While we understand the inclination to compare this incident to protocol violations by other players, including LeBron James, those factors are very different,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said. “LeBron briefly attended an outdoor event related to an individual commercial activity where everyone was either 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.”
One Eastern Conference executive raised the specter of the NBA of giving James preferential treatment.
“It’s a given that LeBron, because of who he is, is going to get some things to go his way that don’t go that way for others,” the exec told Bleacher Report on Thursday. “The thing that I struggle with understanding is the whole point of having all these health protocols is to keep players safe, right? Why are there layers to this? If you spell out the rules and the players violate them, why would you (then) risk exposing them to their teammates?”
Another NBA team official told Bleacher Report the league is sending a mixed message.
“The NBA is trying to have it both ways. They are taking this [coronavirus] seriously; they have from the jump. But they want the players to not feel too restricted by the rules. What you wind up doing, you create more confusion to a process that’s already kind of confusing because everything changes so quickly when it comes to what you can do and what you can’t,” the official said.
The NBA said Porzingis violated league rules when it came to attending bars, clubs or similar places. The report noted that Houston Rockets forward Kevin Porter Jr. was fined $50,000 for attending a strip club last month.
According to ESPN, Porzingis had been vaccinated while James has chosen to keep his vaccination status under wraps.
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