The Los Angeles Lakers will play the Phoenix Suns on Sunday afternoon in the first game of their playoff series. News from this morning shows they came dangerously close to doing so without their best player and leader.
In the early hours of Saturday, ESPN's Dave McMenamin reported LeBron James violated the NBA's COVID protocols by attending an event hosted by his tequila brand earlier in the week. It may have been where he was pictured with Drake. Adrian Wojnarowski then followed up to say that LeBron would not be suspended for this infraction.
The Lakers and LeBron got insanely lucky here. Players have missed games all season long because of the slightest violation of the COVID protocols. Caris LeVert missed the Pacers' do-or-die play-in games just this week because of health and safety protocols.
It's stunningly irresponsible from LeBron. He knew what the protocols dictated. He knew what he could and couldn't do. Even if he didn't know that the event would cross the line with the league, he was definitely aware that it was a risk. To choose to take that risk on the eve of the playoffs... It's hard to understand what was going through LeBron's head here.
Fortunately for the Lakers, the league didn't bring the hammer down. Which they absolutely could have. It was this season when they pulled Kevin Durant off the bench because of COVID protocols. There is a universe in which the NBA makes an example out of LeBron. But not this one. It doesn't make what LeBron did any better, that's for sure.