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Although he has often talked about the importance of maximizing his safety by following the NBA’s health and safety protocols related to the coronavirus pandemic, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James has declined to say whether he has or plans to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“It’s not a big deal,” James said on Friday after practice.
But if James has or will receive the vaccine, the Lakers’ star dismissed whether his availability for the team’s postseason run would factor into his decision.
“Anything I do off the floor is predicated to my family for the majority or 99.9 percent of that,” James said. “It’s about the health and safety of my family. That’s what it came down to. Being available to my teammates on the floor is about taking care of my body and me doing everything I can to make sure I’m available both mentally, physically and spiritually as well. But anything of that nature is all family talk.”
The NBA and the NBA players union have not required players to take the COVID-19 vaccine, and both parties remain mindful that some of the predominantly Black players feel skeptical stemming from the unethical Tuskegee Syphilis Study. But the league and each teams have addressed players about the vaccine’s effectiveness and the additional freedoms they can have after taking it. Once a team becomes 85% vaccinated among players, coaches and staff members, the league loosens up its protocols for that respective team.
Some examples including being able to visit the practice facility without wearing masks as well as eating meals on the team plane. Individual vaccinated players are permitted to dine outdoors, invite friends and family on the road without testing and are not subject to quarantine after possible exposure.
“We have not reached it yet, but we’re still hopeful,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “There’s obvious benefits from a standpoint of us being able to do more things with each other in the cities that we’re going to. That’s something that has been absent league-wide in terms of team building and team bonding. For all of us, it’s been a challenge. If we ever reach that threshold, we obviously can do more.”
The Los Angeles County of Public Health also announced that people that receive their first COVID-19 vaccine this weekend will be entered into a sweepstakes to win free Lakers season tickets for the 2021-22 campaign.
James has not missed any games related to the league’s health and safety protocols, but Lakers guard Dennis Schroder missed time in two separate incidents because of that. Last week, Schroder maintained that he did not test positive for COVID-19, but confirmed that he has not taken the vaccine.
Lakers governor Jeanie Buss, forward Anthony Davis, forward Montrezl Harrell and Vogel have all publicly said they received the vaccine.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: LeBron James declines to say if he's received COVID vaccine