The floodgates are open for pro athletes seeking out ways to get back to training, and as the NBA arranges initial plans to finish out the 2019-20 season, perhaps no one is more determined to get back on the court than LeBron James.
The Lakers star and MVP candidate has been particularly vocal about his desire to play out the season, and was even part of a call with other superstars to present a united front in support of this outcome last week. Now, James is reportedly arranging workouts with his Lakers teammates in a private gym somewhere in southern California to get ready for the season, according to Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic.
— Stadium (@Stadium) May 21, 2020
This is the type of situation the NBA was trying to avoid. Charania adds that James’ private workouts are operating under the same guidelines as official NBA workouts across the country, but suffice to say it’s hard to imagine that James hired a Chief Hygiene Officer. Charania also reports that all players who are joining James for workouts are being tested before joining him on the court. Testing for COVID-19 is widespread in California, where local officials have said anyone who wants a test can get one, so the simple act of getting tested before playing basketball is nothing major. But the NBA has been careful not to appear to be operating on a playing field above the rest of the public.
The news is especially peculiar considering the Lakers opened their El Segundo practice facility on Monday in coordination with local officials. Why James is hosting separate workouts that use more resources and are not happening within the regulations the NBA put out is a symbol of James’ power in the league, but also the challenges of governing a large body of wealthy athletes spread out over the country at this time.
The NBA will reportedly begin working with teams in early June to bring players back to their home markets, effectively cutting out odd arrangements like the one James has created. But for now, the King is hungry for his fourth ring, and is readying himself individually for when the time comes to compete again.