NBA Fines Player 50k for Violating Covid Rules After LeBron James Off the Hook

LeBron James
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The National Basketball Association (NBA) fined the fully vaccinated Dallas Mavericks player, Kristaps Porzingis, Tuesday, after the league backpedaled their stance on the billionaire Los Angeles Lakers star, LeBron James, by not penalizing the star after violating the same rule, the league originally said.

The NBA announced, on Twitter, they had fined the Porzingis for violating the league’s Chinese coronavirus rules when he visited a strip club over the weekend. An ESPN report, the news outlet’s sources confirmed the fully vaccinated Porzingis, had briefly visited a strip club in Los Angeles.

It was announced in the statement, Byron Spruell, the NBA’s president of league operations, said they fined “Dallas Mavericks Kristaps Porzingis $50,000 for violating the rule prohibiting players from going into any bar, club, lounge, or similar establishment, regardless of the player’s vaccination status.

The statement also added that “in consultation with medical experts, and based on all the facts and circumstances,” that his outing “did not create risks related to the spread of COVID-19 and therefore no quarantine is necessary.”

The penalty on Porzingis immediately caused sports fans and reporters to question why the NBA is holding Porzingis to a different standard than James. James had recently appeared at a promotional event for a tequila brand he invests in, which a league spokesman said violated NBA Chinese coronavirus protocols.

Even though the event required proof of vaccination or a negative test, which the league said still violated the rules. A  league representative told ESPN, “It’s a violation of the agreed upon protocols. … and, as we have in other comparable instances around the league, it has been addressed with the team.”

The league released an additional statement clarifying the “misconception” behind James’ “brief” attendance at the “outdoor” promotional event. “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,” the statement read.

Mike Bass, an NBA spokesman, on Tuesday released a statement on the difference behind Porzingis and James:

While we understand the inclination to compare [Porzingis’] incident to protocol violations by other players, including LeBron James, those facts are very different. LeBron briefly attended an outdoor event related to an individual commercial activity where everyone was either required to be vaccinated or return a negative COVID test. The league reviews each potential protocol violation on a case-by-case basis, and determines quarantines and imposes discipline based on the individual facts and circumstances of each matter.

ESPN reported, Rick Carlisle, the Mavericks coach, said, “the team has addressed the situation internally.”

Ahead of the playoffs game against the Los Angeles Clipper, Carlisle said, “We obviously accept the league’s ruling … and other than that, we have no comment on the matter other than to get ready to play Game 2.”

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