LeBron James Has Not Contracted COVID, Received False Positive Test, NBA Says

The four-time NBA champ did not participate in Tuesday's Los Angeles Lakers game against the Sacramento Kings due to the league's COVID-19 health and safety protocols

LeBron James has not contracted COVID-19 after all.

In a statement released Thursday, the NBA confirmed that the Los Angeles Lakers star, 36, had tested negative several times for the virus after he was placed under the NBA's COVID-19 health and safety protocols earlier this week.

"Following two negative PCR tests conducted more than 24 hours apart, Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James has cleared the NBA's Health & Safety Protocols," the statement read, explaining that he had initially been placed under the protocols "after a series of tests delivered conflicting results."

James initially tested positive, but two more separate PCR tests have confirmed that the result was a false positive, according to the NBA. He is now expected to play in Friday's game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Upon subjecting himself to the league's coronavirus protocols, the four-time NBA champ — who has already missed 10 games this season due to injuries and one game due to his first-ever suspension — did not participate in Tuesday's game against the Sacramento Kings.

LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the game against the Indiana Pacers
Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

"It's a huge loss," Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said during Tuesday's pregame press conference. "It's disappointing. We just want the best for him right now. That's where our thoughts are. We have a 'next man up' mindset."

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Vogel shared that the team learned James was following protocol Tuesday morning, and he was sent back to Los Angeles from Sacramento for quarantine. The league's COVID protocols state that James would have to quarantine for 10 days or until he could provide two consecutive negative COVID tests within 24 hours.

"Hopefully, this is something that's short term," Vogel added. "We'll see."

James confirmed in September that he was vaccinated during media day for the 2021 NBA season.

"I know I was very skeptical about it all, but after doing my research and things of that nature, I felt it was best for not only me, but for my family, for my friends. That's why I decided to do it," the father of three explained. "Anything that I talk about, I don't talk about other people and what they should do. I speak for me and for my family, that's what it's about."

Golden State Warriors vs Los Angeles Lakers Celebs
LeBron James. Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

The current league protocol for COVID does not include a vaccination mandate. Unvaccinated players are allowed to play this season, however, the NBA states that the athletes will have to be tested daily on practice and travel days and at least once on game day along with mandatory mask-wearing.

Fully vaccinated players will not be subjected to daily testing.

Meanwhile, local health regulations in specific locations, notably New York and San Francisco areas, require athletes to be vaccinated to play in home games.

Despite missing James, the Lakers beat the Kings on Tuesday night, 117-92.

Breakthrough cases — COVID-19 infections that occur in people who have been fully vaccinated against the virus — are possible and expected, as the vaccines are not 100% effective in preventing infections. Still, vaccinated people who test positive will likely be asymptomatic or experience a far milder illness than if they were not vaccinated. The majority of deaths from COVID-19 — around 98 to 99% — are in unvaccinated people.

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