When LeBron James walked off of the Staples Center court on Friday night, there were two overwhelming points of frustration encompassing the Los Angeles Lakers star. The first came from a 119-115 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, a rival the Lakers have now failed to beat in each of their last four meetings. The second, meanwhile, stems from how the NBA handled James’ positive COVID-19 test.
After LA’s loss, James spoke to the media about his brief stint in health and safety protocols. In doing so, he poked a few holes into a process possibly in need of re-evaluation.
LeBron James was placed in COVID-19 health and safety protocols on Tuesday
On Tuesday morning, hours before the Lakers took on the Sacramento Kings, LeBron tested positive for coronavirus. The four-time MVP then to fly back to Los Angeles on a separate plane away from the team.
According to league rules, players who test positive for coronavirus are out for a minimum of 10 days or until they return two negative tests a minimum of 24 hours apart. So while many expected James to miss LA’s next three games at minimum, the King’s negative tests allowed him to return to action after three days.
The expedited homecoming was both a welcome sign for James and the Lakers. But the superstar went into painful detail regarding how the league could’ve handled everything differently.
LeBron blasts the NBA’s testing policy for failing in several areas
Fans and media members were heavily anticipating LeBron’s explanation on the last several days. What they received was the King unfiltered, as he revealed several failures within the NBA’s handling of events.
“Usually when you have a positive test, they’ll test you right away to make sure,” James said via ESPN. “There was not a follow-up test after my positive test. It was straight to isolation and you’ve been put into protocol. That’s the part that kind of angered me. I had to figure out a way to get home from Sacramento by myself. They wouldn’t allow anyone to travel with me, no security, no anything, when I traveled back from Sacramento.”
James, who also said he was asymptomatic throughout the process, then explained how his positive test impacted his family.
“And then I had to put my kids in isolation for the time being, the people in my household in isolation for the time being, so it was just a big-time inconvenience,” LeBron told reporters. “That was the anger part.”
According to ESPN’s report, James tested negative eight times between his arrival in Los Angeles on Tuesday and his clearance to return on Thursday.
“We’ve all been doing exactly what the protocols have told us to do and taking the tests and things of that nature,” LeBron added. “It’s unfortunate when you get a false positive and you get put right into isolation. That’s just the unfortunate part.”
LeBron is mostly on the mark with his criticisms
James’ frustration is well deserved … for the most part. The 17-time All-Star tested negative on Tuesday morning before returning a positive result in a follow-up test. At the very least, another test or two should have been given in order to confirm the accuracy of the positive result.
That being said, just because he was asymptomatic doesn’t mean he didn’t have coronavirus. LeBron, who confirmed he was vaccinated during training camp, could have had the virus without any symptoms, a common occurrence amongst the vaccinated.
Admittedly, it’s truly difficult to criticize the NBA for being overly cautious when it comes to handling a pandemic. But the process should feature a degree of common sense in an instance like what LeBron dealt with. If negative tests receive a follow-up, positive ones should too.
Just consider this another mishap in the King’s luckless 19th season.