LeBron James' reported breach of NBA health and safety protocols led to no visible consequences for the Los Angeles Lakers star. Charles Barkley isn't surprised.
During an interview with LaJethro Jenkins on Yahoo Sports' "Dunk Bait," the NBA Hall of Famer discussed James reportedly attending a promotional event for a tequila before the NBA's play-in tournament, in which the Lakers defeated the Golden State Warriors to return to the NBA playoffs.
ESPN's Dave McMenamin reported Saturday morning that the NBA would not suspend James for the breach, but did address the matter with the Lakers.
Barkley had some choice words for how the league handles its biggest star:
"I love Adam Silver, rest in peace David Stern, best commissioner in sports. The NBA ain't got the balls to f***ing suspend LeBron James. Zero. Listen, today, when I read that, I just — sometimes you read stuff, you just start laughing.
"Hey, the NBA, they ain't got no chance of suspending LeBron James. If it was a nobody, they would put him in healthy and safety protocols. Ain't no f***ing way LeBron James is going to be sitting out with all the health and safety protocols. When I read that, I just started laughing. LeBron James is playing Sunday. Guarantee."
James was one of several celebrity guests at the event on Tuesday for Lobos 1707 tequila, which James has invested in. Drake and Michael B. Jordan were among those at the event, and the pair were also seen in attendance at Wednesday's play-in game.
Invitees to the tequila event were reportedly required to produce proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a recent negative test in order to attend. James has repeatedly declined to say whether he is vaccinated. Despite the safety measures, the league determined James had violated its protocols, but decided the event didn't rise to a threat level of virus spread.
"It's a violation of the agreed upon protocols, and, as we have in other comparable instances around the league, it has been addressed with the team," a league spokesman told ESPN on Friday.
With or without James, the Lakers remain scheduled to begin their series against the No. 2 seed Phoenix Suns on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET.