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Why was Porzingis fined and LeBron was not?

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A few hours before the Mavericks faced off against the Clippers in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series, the NBA fined Kristaps Porzingis for violating league rules prohibiting players from going into any bar, club, lounge, or similar establishment.

The Mavericks' forward attended a club on May 23, which ended up costing him $50,000. However, no quarantine was needed. Medical experts the league consulted said Kristaps being at the club “did not create risks related to the spread of COVID-19," allowing him to play in yesterday's game against the Clippers. In 32 minutes on the floor, he had 20 points on 8-for-12 shooting, helping the Mavs take a 2-0 series lead.

What happened is a mistake on my part. I was honestly a little bit confused with the protocols, made a mistake, and paid for it. I'm glad that we were able to get the win tonight, and I was able to play. I'm looking forward to what's coming, but it was a mistake on my part.

Kristaps Porzingis, ESPN

The obvious parallel to be drawn here is a violation by LeBron James, who, just last week, attended an outdoor event promoting a tequila brand he's invested in. Despite being in breach of the league's health and safety protocols, the Lakers superstar received no fines, nor was he suspended. Here's how the NBA addressed the issue.

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To clarify any remaining misconception, LeBron James briefly attended an outdoor event last week where participants were required to be vaccinated or return a negative test result. Under these circumstances and in consultation with medical experts, it was determined that his attendance did not create risks related to the spread of COVID-19, and therefore no quarantine was necessary.

Mike Bass, NBA

LeBron attended an event in a controlled environment; Porzingis did not. The NBA even said that the players who have been fully vaccinated have the permission to participate in outdoor events for a promotional appearance. Even though Porzingis did receive two doses of vaccine, a trip to an unregulated environment of a strip club resulted in a fine, which the league also explained in a statement.

While we understand the inclination to compare Porzingis' incident to protocol violations by other players, including LeBron James, those facts are 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. 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.

Mike Bass, NBA

At first, the league's decision to fine Porzingis, after giving LeBron a pass, pointed to a potential double standard. But the NBA's statements rebut that theory.

No special treatment was given to the 36-year-old superstar, and the Mavericks forward was fined accordingly.

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