LeBron James, it’s fair to say, has had a less than fun week. After initially testing positive for COVID-19 in Sacramento, the Lakers star was sent home to isolate for what was initially believed to be a 10-day process. But just two days into his isolation, James was unexpectedly cleared to return to play after testing negative for the coronavirus twice.
Despite that being good news, however, James was still “confused, frustrated and angry” at the whole process, and he explained why to local reporters after the Lakers’ 119-115 loss to the Clippers on Friday night.
“I haven’t been able to do anything. I’ve been sitting in the house since I got back Monday evening all the way until I got cleared at like 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon. This morning was the first time I actually got the opportunity to touch a basketball since Sunday’s game vs. Detroit,” James said, adding that he never had any doubt he would be allowed to return.
“I knew I was going to get cleared because I never, ever felt sick. At all. And I know you can be asymptomatic, but, I mean, if what I had was a positive COVID test, then what are we doing? What are we talking about? So, I just thought it was handled very poorly,” James, who is not an epidemiologist, said.
“But being able to take the tests and get cleared, that was definitely a breath of fresh air not only for myself, but for my family and friends and everybody else involved,” James continued. “It’s unfortunate when you get a false positive and you get put right into isolation, that’s just the unfortunate part, but we’ll see what happens.”
"Confused, frustrated, angry...I knew I was going to get cleared. I thought it was handled very poorly." LeBron James with @LakersReporter on being in health and safety protocols the last few days. #LakeShow pic.twitter.com/NemhzyzJ5k— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) December 4, 2021
The NBA puts players into isolation in that scenario to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as the pandemic continues to rage worldwide. But James explained that it wasn’t so much the isolation that upset him enough to subtweet the league office with fish emojis. It was the steps that led to him being placed into the health and safety protocols in the first place.
“What part of the process (angered me)? Uh, the fact that I tested negative first and then my second test came back positive, and usually when you have a positive test they will test you right away to make sure,” James said. But he added that’s not what happened in this case.
“There was not a follow-up test after my positive test. It was straight isolation and you’ve been put into protocol,” James said. “That’s the part that kind of angered me, and I had to figure out a way to get home from Sacramento by myself.”
The Lakers said on Tuesday that they had arranged travel for James to get home, but regardless, it wasn’t just that part that irritated James.
“They wouldn’t allow anyone to travel with me. No security, no anything, when I traveled back from Sacramento. And then I had to put my kids into isolation for the time being, and put people in my household in isolation for the time being,” James said. “It was just a big-time inconvenience, so that was just the angry part.”
Still, James declined to use the opportunity to blast the NBA protocols as a whole. He was complimentary of the way the league has handled the pandemic overall. He just seemed to pretty clearly feel like the rules were inconsistently applied in Sacramento, and obviously frustrated that the whole situation caused him to miss yet another game as this Lakers team desperately searches for some semblance of rhythm.
“I think they’ve (the NBA) done a great job since the protocols were put into place. I just think the way it was handled in Sacramento was a little different. I will say that. But from a league standpoint they’ve done a hell of a job,” James said.
And as a result of that job and those protocols, he was ultimately able to get back on the court on Friday, even if it was a little later than he might have liked.