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Determining what COVID protocols affect the postseason

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There has yet to be a player suspended for COVID protocols during this postseason, will CP3 be the first?

Phoenix Suns defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 113-100 during game six of the Western Conference First Round NBA Playoff basketball game. Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

Yesterday it was posted that Chris Paul may be unavailable at the zenith of the Western Conference Finals. It is unclear what exactly caused the concern, but it did mirror conversations from earlier rounds. As basketball fans may recall, both LeBron James and Kristaps Porzingis attended events that led to discussions of protocol breeches and possible unavailability during postseason games.

In the case of LeBron James, he attended a launch of his tequila brand hours before the play-in game against the Golden State Warriors. His not being fined or suspended from play drew criticism as Kevin Porter, Jr. was fined $50,000 and missed games due to the league’s health and safety protocols after he reportedly took a trip to a strip club.

The league sent this statement:

“To clarify any remaining misconception, LeBron James briefly attended an outdoor event last week where participants were required to be vaccinated or return a negative test result,” the statement reads. “Under these circumstances and in consultation with medical experts, it was determined that his attendance did not create risks related to the spread of COVID-19 and therefore no quarantine was necessary.”

Kristaps Porzingis was also fined $50,000 for his attendance at a club during the playoffs. Conversely to Porter, Jr., he was not suspended. Was this because the stakes were higher as the teams were involved in the playoffs? Was Porzingis given preferential treatment due to the caliber of his play and the perceived necessity to his team? Are the rules surrounding COVID protocols fluid at this point in the season?

“The rule prohibiting players from going into any bar, club, lounge, or similar establishment, regardless of the player’s vaccination status. In consultation with medical experts, and based on all facts and circumstances, it was determined that his attendance did not create risks related to the spread of COVID-19 and therefore no quarantine is necessary” said Byron Spruell, NBA president of league operations in response to the Porzingis situation.

And as for LeBron, because his event was held outside and required participants to either be vaccinated or test negative for COVID-19, James did break NBA guidelines and was not fined, suspended or forced to quarantine.

As for Chris Paul, not knowing the exact nature of the cause of his protocols, we may not know what to expect from the outcome. One this is apparent, the higher the stakes and the bigger the player, the more likely the NBA will find a path to let him play.


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