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Lakers' LeBron James clears NBA's COVID-19 protocols after two negative tests

Lakers' LeBron James clears NBA's COVID-19 protocols after two negative tests
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, shown Dec. 28, 2020, initially returned a positive test result for COVID-19 on Tuesday in Sacramento, Calif. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James was cleared to return to the court after a brief stint in the NBA's health and safety protocols, the league announced Thursday.

James, who is vaccinated, was eligible to exit the league's COVID-19 protocols after returning two negative tests at least 24 hours apart. Players who are asymptomatic can also return to the lineup after 10 days if they're vaccinated.

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ESPN and The Athletic reported that James has returned eight negative tests since returning to Los Angeles on Tuesday afternoon. The Lakers star initially tested positive for the coronavirus Tuesday morning in Sacramento, Calif.

The league released a statement Thursday detailing the sequence of events that led to James landing in the protocols and being reinstated:

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"Following two negative PCR tests conducted more than 24 hours apart, Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James has cleared the NBA's health and safety protocols," the NBA said in a statement.

"James was originally placed in the protocols on Tuesday, November 30 after a series of tests delivered conflicting results, including an initial positive test that was collected on November 29. Additional testing confirmed that he is not a positive case.

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"In accordance with the protocols, and the consistent testing practice that has been in place since the 2019-20 season restart in Orlando, the sample that produced the initial positive test was re-run twice and returned one negative and one positive result on two different PCR instruments. As a result, James underwent additional testing on November 30, with one test returning a negative result and a second test resulting in a clinically inconclusive result."

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The Lakers earned a 117-92 win over the Sacramento Kings without James, then had an off day on Wednesday, during which James took to social media to hint at his disapproval with the league's protocols.

James has been limited to 11 games this season due to injuries and a suspension. He has averaged 25.8 points, 6.8 assists and 5.2 rebounds in the 2021-22 campaign.

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