LeBron James is out of the NBA's health and safety protocols.
The Los Angeles Lakers star was cleared to return to his team on Thursday, two days after he was sidelined due to testing positive for COVID-19, the league announced in a statement.
NBA issues statement clearing LeBron James to return to the court on Friday after a false positive COVID-19 test. pic.twitter.com/7zhK6UsBwP
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) December 2, 2021
In the statement, the league said that James, who is vaccinated, initially tested positive on Nov. 29, leading to a new round of testing on the same sample, which returned both a negative result and another positive result. A new test on Tuesday then returned a negative result and an inconclusive result.
Eventually, James tested negative 24 hours apart, causing the NBA to conclude that James' initial testing was a false positive. He seemed to imply some frustration during the process with this cryptic tweet:
🤔Something is REAL 🐠 🐟 🎣 🐟🐠 going on
— LeBron James (@KingJames) December 1, 2021
Had James tested positive for COVID-19 again, he would have been facing at least 10 days away from the team, a span of time that included four games. He missed the Lakers' 117-92 win over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday, but will likely be back for Friday's game against the Los Angeles Clippers.
The quick return allows the 12-11 Lakers to avoid even more games without James, who has already missed 12 games this season between the health and safety protocols, injuries to his ankle and abdomen and a one-game suspension. The team is 7-4 with him on the court and 5-7 without.
So far this season, he is averaging 25.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 6.8 rebounds per game while shooting 48.4% from the field.