Dennis Schroder raised both of his hands above his head and rested them on his white beanie that was part of the white-shirt ensemble he was wearing, and then the Lakers point guard proceeded to criticize the NBA after he had landed in the league’s health and safety protocols.
Schroder said he never had COVID and “tested negative,” but he had to quarantine for seven days after it was determined that “somebody in my house” was in violation of contact tracing protocols.
He was cleared to play Friday night against the Portland Trail Blazers after he was forced to miss four games that the Lakers lost.
Schroder’s return to the lineup was much needed for the Lakers, his 22 points, three rebounds and two assists a big part of their 102-93 victory.
But he was not happy that the NBA forced him to miss those games while he was in the health and safety protocols.
“It hurts, first off. I never had COVID. Tested negative the whole time. The situation is what it is. But the NBA I think got to do better,” Schroder said late Friday night. “I think for sure they need to do better. I mean, I tested negative the whole time. I never had positive. They got to figure that out, for sure.“
Schroder had arrived at Staples Center on Feb. 18 for a big showdown between the Lakers and Brooklyn Nets.
Lakers coach Frank Vogel told the media about 1½ hours before the start of the game how he was looking forward to seeing Schroder compete against Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving. But about 15 minutes after his comment, the Lakers said Schroder would not play.
Schroder said he "was inside the arena” when he got a call from Rob Pelinka, the Lakers’ vice president of basketball operations and general manager, “saying you might not be able to play.”
Schroder said the contact tracing went back to his home. He had reservations about those results.
“The test came back positive, then we put that back in: negative. Did another one: positive. Put it back in: negative,” he said. “So, I don't know at this point.”
Schroder was asked if all this happened on the day of the Nets game.
“Yeah, I mean, that's what they say,” he said.
Schroder was happy to come back and help his team post a much-needed win.
“My wife [Ellen Ziolo], when I got up today, she said, 'You seem like you're happy all day.’ Even before the game,” Schroder said. “I was like, 'What you mean?' But yeah, I looked forward to it. I missed my teammates, coaches, just the whole routine we have. Going into the facility, work.
“It was just hard for me to be in the house, in my guest house — in my own house in my guest house — be there by myself, playing video games, work out. It sucked. But now I'm finally back, and we don’t want it to happen again.”
Schroder played with the energy the Lakers had been lacking. He did is part to try to slow down Portland’s All-Star guard Damian Lillard, who still finished with 35 points but just 11 in the second half.
Schroder got to the free-throw line often, making all nine of his attempts.
“Obviously Dennis gives us an automatic spark,” Lakers star LeBron James said. “His energy alone gives us a spark. His competitive nature gives us a spark. And obviously we’ve been shorthanded as of late, so to have another body, a fresh body. … I wouldn’t say fresh when you're out of the game for a week. But just to have him back in our lineup and have him back in our locker room just means so much to our team. So, it was big time in that instance…”
VS GOLDEN STATE
When: 5 p.m., Sunday
On the air: TV: Spectrum SN, ESPN; Radio: 710, 1330
Update: The Lakers blew a 14-point lead in a loss to the Warriors the last time they played at Staples Center. Stephen Curry is second in the NBA in scoring (29.9) and first in three-point attempts (11.8) and makes (4.9), and seventh in three-point shooting percentage (46.9%). Draymond Green leads the Warriors in rebounds (6.1), assists (8.7) and steals (1.4).
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.