LeBron returns negative tests, cleared to play

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LOS ANGELES — LeBron James has been cleared to return to the lineup for the Los Angeles Lakers‘ game against the LA Clippers on Friday after a brief stint in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, the league announced Thursday.

James has returned eight negative tests since returning to Los Angeles on Tuesday afternoon, sources told ESPN, after the Lakers star tested positive for COVID-19 in Sacramento on Tuesday morning.

The Lakers beat the Kings without James, 117-92, and had an off day on Wednesday, during which James took to Twitter to hint at his displeasure with the protocols.

James did not practice with the Lakers on Thursday, as the health and safety protocols required him to be isolated from the team until returning two negative tests within a 24-hour window.

He revealed on Lakers media day in late September that he had received the COVID-19 vaccine.

The league released a statement on Thursday detailing the chain of events that led to James missing the Kings game and being reinstated for the Clippers game:

“Following two negative PCR tests conducted more than 24 hours apart, Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James has cleared the NBA’s Health & Safety Protocols,” the NBA said in its 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.

“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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