The NBA came under fire Tuesday when it chose to fine Dallas Mavericks star Kristaps Porzingis for breaking league rules relating to stopping the spread of the coronavirus while giving LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers an apparent free pass for doing something similar.
Porzingis was fined $50,000 for violating the league’s rules on players going into a bar, club, lounge or comparable establishment regardless of vaccination status.
The league determined that Porzingis broke NBA Rules when he attended a club on May 23 – around the time the team defeated the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 1 of their playoff matchup.
“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,” the NBA said.
The NBA chose not to fine or suspend James last week after he appeared at a promotional event for a tequila company before the Lakers’ play-in tournament game against the Golden State Warriors. The league said Monday that James was at an event where “participants were required to be vaccinated or return a negative test result.”
The league added: “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.”
James has not said whether he got the coronavirus vaccine and has not advocated for or against it.
When the league announced Porzingis’ fine, it followed up with a clarification between the two determinations.
“While we understand the inclination to compare this incident to protocol violations by other players, including LeBron James, those factors are very different,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said. “LeBron briefly attended an outdoor event related to an individual commercial activity where everyone was either 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.”