Why NBA fined Mavericks’ Kristaps Porzingis, but not Lakers’ LeBron James, for violating protocols

When the NBA announced Tuesday it had fined Kristaps Porzingis $50,000 for violating health and safety protocols, it had to know one big question was coming: Why did it punish the Mavericks big man, but let Lakers star LeBron James slide?

Porzingis violated COVID-19 protocols when he briefly visited a Los Angeles strip club on Sunday, according to a report from ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. The 25-year-old has been vaccinated, but players are not allowed to go to a bar, club, lounge or similar establishment, regardless of vaccination status.

NBA spokesman Mike Bass told The Athletic’s Shams Charania that James, who was seen at a promotional event last week before the Lakers’ play-in game against the Warriors, didn’t get hit with a fine because the facts of each case were “very different.”

“LeBron briefly attended an outdoor event related to an individual commercial activity where everyone was either required to be vaccinated or return a negative COVID test,” Bass said. “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.”

Neither James nor Porzingis will be forced to quarantine because the NBA determined their actions didn’t “create risks related to the spread of COVID-19.” When asked about the violation during his Tuesday media availability, Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said the matter had been addressed internally, adding that the team accepts the league’s decision.

Both James and Porzingis will be back on the court for pivotal Game 2s in their respective first-round series. The Mavericks will look to take a commanding 2-0 lead against the Clippers, while the Lakers hope to avoid falling into an 0-2 hole against the Suns.

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