LeBron James caught up in incredible NBA virus bombshell

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LeBron James will be sidelined for at least the next 10 days for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James has entered the NBA's coronavirus health and safety protocols. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

NBA superstar LeBron James is likely to miss several games for the Los Angeles Lakers after entering the league's Covid-19 health and safety protocols.

It is not known yet whether or not James has tested positive to the coronavirus, however under NBA rules players are required to enter the protocols if they either return a positive test, or if they are flagged as a close contact of a positive case.

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James will miss Wednesday's road game against the Sacramento Kings, and has reportedly flown back to Los Angeles aboard a private jet in order to maintain distance from the rest of the team.

According to the NBA, roughly 97 per cent of the league's players are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, however there have been a number of breakthrough infections among those players.

If he returns a positive test, James will be forced to spend at least 10 days on the sidelines and return two negative tests before being allowed to return to the court.

A full 10 days out would mean missing not only Tuesday's game against the Kings, but the Lakers' games on Friday against the Los Angeles Clippers, next Tuesday against the Boston Celtics and next Thursday against the Memphis Grizzlies.

James has already missed 11 outs of the Lakers' 22 games this season due to ankle and abdominal injuries. The Lakers are 7-4 with him and 4-7 without him.

So far this season, he is averaging 25.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 6.8 rebounds per game while shooting 48.4 percent from the field.

The NBA, in a memo obtained by The Associated Press, also told its teams on Tuesday that it has documented 34 cases in which a fully vaccinated player, coach or staffer had a breakthrough case of COVID-19.

The league has said about 97 per cent of players are fully vaccinated, with Brooklyn' Nets guard Kyrie Irving - who has not played this season because of his status - among the exceptions.

NBA monitoring Covid-19 situation as LeBron James enters health protocols

Other NBA stars have already missed multiple games this season after testing positive, including the Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid - who just missed three weeks while dealing with the virus.

Embiid returned from a two-week absence to drop 42 points in an overtime loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves last weekend, but his performance belied the impact the illness had on the 27-year-old.

Despite being fully vaccinated, Embiid endured a breakthrough case of illness associated with the virus, ultimately missing nine games and having to watch as the 76ers posted a 2-7 record with him sidelined.

Speaking after his return, Embiid left reporters under no illusions as to how badly the illness had affected him over the previous weeks.

Despite clearing protocols, Embiid took extra time off to regain conditioning before his return.

“I really thought I wasn’t going to make it,” Embiid said.

Joel Embiid says he was left shaken by the severe effects of his illness after contracting Covid-19 several weeks ago. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Joel Embiid says he was left shaken by the severe effects of his illness after contracting Covid-19 several weeks ago. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

“It was that bad. So, I’m just thankful to be sitting here. I struggled with it, but I’m just glad I got over it and I’m just here doing what I love with some good people.

“The whole body was just done, I guess. It was not a good time.

“Honestly, I did not think I was going to play tonight after the workout last night.

“Really couldn’t go up and down more than three times. I guess, to me it’s a miracle I even played this many minutes.”

Several other players to have contracted Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic have also spoken about feeling they needed an increased amount of time to fully recover.

Boston Celtics duo Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown both had recovered from their brushes with the coronavirus, but also felt worse for wear for some time afterwards despite no longer being infections.

The overwhelming majority of NBA and WNBA players are fully vaccinated, with Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving the only high-profile player to have publicly refused to be vaccinated.

New York is one of a handful of US states to mandate vaccination for certain workers, a remit which includes NBA players.

With agencies

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