NBA fans are fuming after LeBron James escaped sanction despite breaking league rules regarding Covid-19.
James reportedly violated health and safety regulations after attending a promotional event for a brand of tequila he has invested in on Wednesday.
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Hollywood actor Michael B. Jordan and singer Drake both attended the event with James, which took place before the Lakers' win over the Golden State Warriors.
Although invitees were required to show proof of a negative test or vaccination to get access to the event, James was deemed to be in breach of the NBA's Covid-19 protocols.
"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," an NBA spokesman told ESPN.
However James will not face suspension because the breach was not deemed serious enough to risk spreading the virus.
According to NBA regulations, players found to have breached health and safety protocols can receive warnings, fines or suspensions depending on the seriousness of the breach.
James' Lakers teammate Dennis Schroder was recently required to miss 10 days because of Covid-19 protocols.
Fans flocked to social media to decry the fact that James had escaped punishment.
"NBA is a disgrace. I don’t think LeBron should be suspended, but you have sat down numerous players this year for the exact same thing. What’s the difference now?" one fan tweeted.
Another wrote: "LeBron has got preferential treatment from the league and refs all his career. What a disgrace."
LeBron James leads Lakers against Suns
James will spearhead the Lakers in their opening playoff game against the Phoenix Suns on Sunday.
In arguably the most intriguing opening-round matchup, the No.7 seed Lakers enter the series as a slight betting favourite over the No.2 seed Suns, according to FanDuel.
"Our guys aren't bitter, we're looking forward to competing against the Lakers," Suns coach Monty Williams said.
"We're not upset or feel like anybody has done something to our Cheerios. We have to go play the Lakers.
"Everything you want is on the other side of hard. Right now, the Lakers are our hard."
The Lakers dealt with injuries to stars James and Anthony Davis over the second half of the season, but both players report they are fine entering this series.
That has helped fuel the popular belief that Los Angeles (42-30 regular season) is the better team than the Suns (51-21) despite needing a play-in victory over the Golden State Warriors to land a postseason berth.
This happens to be Phoenix's first postseason trip since 2010, and sometimes the pressure can trip a team up.
The Suns are hoping the leadership of veteran point guard Chris Paul will negate that perception. But still, the Lakers certainly aren't expecting to be ousted in the first round.
The Lakers seem to be rediscovering their stride as they won their final five regular-season games prior to the play-in triumph over the Warriors.
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