TNT basketball analyst Charles Barkley had something he wanted to rant about over the weekend, and this time it wasn’t about players shooting too many threes. During an appearance on Yahoo Sports’ “Dunk Bait,” the always outspoken former Phoenix Suns player accused NBA Commissioner Adam Silver lacking “the f---ing balls” to put Lakers star LeBron James into isolation during the first round of the NBA playoffs for what was originally reported as a violation of the health and safety protocols.
He wasn’t alone in his criticism, and likely as a result, the league decided to issue a new statement to the media outlining its reasoning for not placing James into isolation before the NBA playoffs:
NBA Statement: pic.twitter.com/WBdU6vdR4Q— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) May 24, 2021
Now, there was some confusion over the wording of that report, but Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports — who is as plugged in with the Klutch Sports camp and James as reporters come — tweeted that this statement should end any doubts over whether or not James is vaccinated:
Being around LeBron James for years, he’s always been private about his medical and never been one to endanger his family or teammates. This statements puts one thing to rest: he’s been vaccinated. https://t.co/Afiwc65fLh— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) May 24, 2021
It seems highly unlikely that Haynes would tweet this if he didn’t know it to be fact. But if that isn’t enough for you, there is more evidence that James appears to have taken the vaccine.
For one thing, there is the NBA ending that statement with “under current NBA rules, vaccinated players are permitted to engage in outside activities including their individual commercial arrangements, such as sponsor appearances or ad shoots.” And no, the NBA did not create that rule just for LeBron, as an ESPN report from months ago outlines:
Here’s the infographic distributed to NBA teams that details the eased restrictions for vaccinated individuals and vaccinated teams: https://t.co/uSuMVkP4cR pic.twitter.com/7uOY4ugjUg— Baxter Holmes (@Baxter) March 18, 2021
Why is that relevant? Because if James attending an outdoor photoshoot was actually a violation, then an indoor TV appearance would also certainly seem to qualify, and yet he has also not been placed into isolation or publicly warned for the new episode of his show “The Shop” that was announced on Monday morning, an episode that was filmed indoors:
We’re back in business! @uninterrupted’s The Shop returns Friday 930pm on @hbomax #TheShopHBO pic.twitter.com/ErQOBjydMF— UNINTERRUPTED (@uninterrupted) May 24, 2021
There is also the fact that Dennis Schröder said he is the only Laker not vaccinated, and the reality that the Lakers have now met the threshold of having 85% of their players and traveling party fully vaccinated in order to get lessened restrictions on the road and at home, both of which make it statistically more likely that James is vaccinated than that he is not.
Still, maybe even after all that, James still isn’t vaccinated. But what seems more likely now is that — for whatever reason — he just wanted to protect his medical privacy rather than disclose his status, and that the NBA wanted to respect his wishes.
For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.