Turns out, the Lakers won’t be without superstar LeBron James for an extended period of time after all.
The NBA mandates that a player who tests positive for COVID-19 must be away from his team for a minimum of 10 days or until he returns two negative PCR tests within a 24-hour period. That put James at risk of missing Los Angeles’ next five games, starting with his absence on Tuesday night against the Sacramento Kings.
After the victory, star forward Anthony Davis said he talked to James, stating, “He said he’s good. I think he’s asymptomatic, which is a good sign, but we want to make sure that he gets back. Health is most important. This is bigger than basketball. He has a family. We want to make sure that he’s good no matter what. … Like I said, he seemed to be fine.”
Just two days later, the NBA announced that LeBron has been cleared from the league’s health and safety protocols, eligible to return for Friday, Dec. 3’s game against the LA Clippers.
Why was LeBron James cleared from NBA’s COVID-19 protocols?
On Thursday, the NBA issued a statement, saying, “Following two negative PCR tests conducted more than 24 hours apart, Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James has cleared the NBA’s Health & Safety Protocols.
“James was originally placed in the Protocols on Tuesday, November 30 after a series of tests delivered conflicting results, including an initial positive test that was collected on November 29. Additional testing confirmed that he is not a positive case.
“In accordance with the Protocols, and the consistent testing practice that has been in place since the 2019-20 Season Restart in Orlando, the sample that produced the initial positive test was re-run twice and returned one negative and one positive result on two different PCR instruments. As a result, James underwent additional testing on November 30, with one test returning a negative result and a second test resulting in a clinically inconclusive result.”
MORE: What are the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols?
In layman’s terms: LeBron’s initial test could have been a false positive, as one test came back positive and the other negative. Once the star forward underwent additional testing, he produced a negative test, with the other being an inconclusive result.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that James had “multiple rounds of negative test results since returning to Los Angeles from Sacramento on Tuesday evening,” which may explain LeBron’s cryptic tweet from Wednesday, Dec. 1.
🤔Something is REAL 🐠 🐟 🎣 🐟🐠 going on
— LeBron James (@KingJames) December 1, 2021
The Lakers were originally in line to face off against the Clippers on ESPN on Friday, but with James’ expected absence, the league flexed the Battle of Los Angeles off of national TV in favor of a rematch between the two best records in the NBA – the Warriors vs. Suns.
MORE: Will the Lakers play LeBron James at center more?
Although his return will not come on the national stage, the Lakers will welcome James back with open arms as they try and get their season back on track, off to an underwhelming 12-11 start.
The Lakers will take on the Clippers at 10 p.m. ET on Friday, Dec. 3.