Vaxxed LeBron: Road to title starts with health

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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — LeBron James said he initially felt “skepticism” regarding the COVID-19 vaccine but ultimately decided to get it for the well-being of himself, his family and his team.

“You’re always trying to figure out ways that you can just be available and protect one another and put yourself in the best possible chance where you are available to your teammates, available to what we need to do on the floor,” James said Tuesday as the Los Angeles Lakers hosted media day at their practice facility.

“The ultimate goal is to obviously win a championship. And it starts with, obviously, health as the No. 1 thing. We’re excited to know that we’ve given ourselves another opportunity to be available to each other, and that’s what it came down to.”

Lakers president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka said last week that he expected his entire roster to be deemed fully vaccinated by opening night of the regular season in mid-October.

Coach Frank Vogel said that his players’ collective decision to get vaccinated could end up not only being a health and safety measure, but also a competitive advantage as some teams around the league — including another championship favorite in the Brooklyn Nets — still have unvaccinated players.

“It’s huge,” Vogel said as the Lakers welcomed reporters into their building for the first time in nearly 18 months because of the coronavirus pandemic. “Obviously you want to be able to not be compromised in any way with an extended absence or quarantines or exposure to quarantines. They were costly last year to our group. Not every team in the league this year has that luxury, but we do.

“We feel like there were a lot of conversations and education to get that done along the way and I’m super proud of our guys for making that commitment and hopefully we don’t have some of those disruptions like we did last year.”

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