LeBron James clears protocols, can play Friday
LeBron James is back. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Lakers' LeBron James clears health and safety protocols, can play Friday vs. Clippers

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James is back.

The basketball community was stunned to learn that James entered the NBA's health and safety protocols after he reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of Tuesday's game at the Sacramento Kings. However, the Association confirmed Thursday the four-time champion has since cleared the protocols and can play in Friday's matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers. 

"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," the NBA explained in its statement. "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."

According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, James has produced eight negative virus tests since he returned to Los Angeles on Tuesday. The 36-year-old hinted big news was coming on Wednesday: 

The Lakers (12-11) defeated the Kings 117-92 without James, who could've remained sidelined for a minimum of 10 total days had he not returned the negative tests. James confirmed in late September he's vaccinated against COVID-19, but it's unclear if he's received a booster or was eligible to get one ahead of this week's developments. 

The NBA has urged eligible players to receive boosters on multiple occasions to help avoid breakthrough COVID-19 cases within squads. 

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