The Sports Report: LeBron James enters COVID-19 health protocols

Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James plays against the Boston Celtics.
LeBron James
(Michael Dwyer / Associated Press)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

Dan Woike on the Lakers: LeBron James has entered the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols and sat out the Lakers’ 117-92 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night.

According to NBA rules, vaccinated players, like James, enter the protocols either after a positive test result or after inconclusive test results. According to the protocols, a vaccinated player can return if he tests negative for the virus on consecutive tests 24 hours apart or if it’s been 10 days without symptoms.


Coach Frank Vogel said the Lakers learned that James would be headed for the protocols early Tuesday morning. After confirming results, the team arranged for James to travel back to Los Angeles, Vogel said.

“Obviously it’s a huge loss. It’s disappointing,” Vogel said before the game in Sacramento. “We just want the best for him right now. That’s where our thoughts are. And we have a next-man-up mindset.”

The Lakers play six times in the next two weeks, including their first Clippers matchup of the season Friday at Staples Center.

This is the fourth issue that has kept James out of the lineup this season. An ankle injury kept him from playing twice in October before an abdominal injury cost him eight games. He also was suspended for a game. Without James the Lakers are 5-7.

Enjoying this newsletter? Consider subscribing to the Los Angeles Times

Your support helps us deliver the news that matters most. Become a subscriber.


Ryan Kartje on the Trojans: The first recruiting domino of the Lincoln Riley era at USC has fallen. And it’s a major one.


Los Alamitos High quarterback Malachi Nelson, a five-star prospect, flipped his pledge from Oklahoma to USC, less than 24 hours after Riley was introduced as the Trojans’ new coach.

The No. 5 overall recruit and No. 2 quarterback in the class of 2023 according to the 247 Sports Composite Rankings, Nelson had committed to Riley and Oklahoma over USC in July. But with Riley now in Los Angeles, the dual-threat passer wasted little time in following the coach.

Nelson, who previously considered USC when Clay Helton was coach, announced his decision Tuesday on social media with a graphic that depicted him in USC gear and read, “Staying home.”


Plaschke: L.A. approves Lincoln Riley, asks how soon can he restore USC to national prominence

These 10 Southland recruits need to be USC coach Lincoln Riley’s top priorities

Commentary: Greed in college football: Lincoln Riley and Brian Kelly are just the latest examples

CFP rankings: Michigan moves into top four; coachless Notre Dame at No. 6


Jorge Castillo on the Dodgers: The Dodgers tendered one-year contracts to four of their five remaining arbitration-eligible players before Tuesday’s non-tender deadline.

Julio Urías, Cody Bellinger, Trea Turner and Caleb Ferguson were offered deals. Only left-handed reliever Andrew Vasquez, who was picked up Aug. 31 and appeared in two games for the Dodgers, wasn’t offered a contract. He became a free agent.

The four players tendered contracts will head to arbitration unless they reach a deal with the Dodgers to avoid a hearing.

Arbitration hearings usually take place in early February, but the looming lockout could change the schedule. Major League Baseball is expected to impose a lockout and, as a result, a freeze on transactions involving players on 40-man rosters when the collective bargaining agreement expires Wednesday night.


Pie fights amid the holiday lights. The impending MLB lockout explained


Jeff Miller on the Chargers: Their late-game success this season — relative to their history — has suggested that the Chargers are undergoing a cultural change.

Then they played at Denver on Sunday and turned the ball over twice in the fourth quarter, falling behind by three touchdowns in the final minutes in their latest biggest game.

The Chargers lost to the Broncos 28-13 on an afternoon that had been a closely contested, sometimes flustering, often confounding affair — until they crumbled.

What this team had found frequently under first-year coach Brandon Staley now went missing, a glaring reminder that success in the NFL — especially in 2021 — can be a difficult thing to maintain.

“When you’re in a tight game, can you find your offense late in the game?” Staley said, a reference to how the flailing Chargers still could have won in Denver. Later, he added, “We’ve just got to have our best stuff at the end.”

That sentiment never has been more true than it is today, with December about to arrive and the 6-5 Chargers looking at a remaining six-game stretch that will determine their fortune.


NFL roundtable: Why can’t Rams, Chargers get their offenses in line?


Helene Elliott on the Kings: Before the Kings lost to the Ducks 5-4 in a shootout Tuesday, the NHL suspended Kings forward Brendan Lemieux five games without pay for biting the bare left hand of Ottawa Senators forward Brady Tkachuk “with a substantial amount of force” during a tussle Saturday and causing Tkachuk’s hand to bleed, the league’s Department of Player Safety announced Tuesday.

The DPS said it did not have sufficient video evidence to additionally consider punishing Lemieux for inflicting a bloody cut on Tkachuk’s other hand, as Tkachuk contended had happened after their fight.

“This is not a hockey play,” the DPS said. “This is a player delivering a forceful, intentional and potentially dangerous bite to the hand of another player with sufficient force to puncture the skin.”

Based on his average annual salary Lemieux will forfeit $38,750.00. The money will go to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.


1936 — End Larry Kelley of Yale is named the Heisman Trophy winner.

1951 — Arnold “Showboat” Boykin of Mississippi scores seven touchdowns in a 49-7 rout of Mississippi State.

1956 — The United States beats the Soviet Union 89-55 to win the gold medal in men’s basketball at the Melbourne Olympics. Bob Jeangerard (16), K.C. Jones (15), Jim Walsh (14) and Bill Russell (13) each score double-digits.

1959 — Louisiana State halfback Billy Cannon is named the Heisman Trophy winner.

1961 — Paul Arizin of the Philadelphia Warriors scores 33 points in 138-177 win over the Lakers to become the third NBA player to reach the 15,000-point plateau.

1973 — Jack Nicklaus wins the Disney World Open to become the first pro golfer to surpass $2 million in earnings.

1980 — South Carolina running back George Rogers is named the Heisman Trophy winner.

1984 — Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie is named the 50th Heisman Trophy winner.

1990 — Ty Detmer of Brigham Young wins the Heisman Trophy. Detmer, who had set or tied 25 NCAA passing and total offense records, becomes the first BYU winner and third consecutive junior winner.

2001 — North Texas (5-6) loses to Troy State 18-16 to become the third team to go to a bowl with a losing record. The Mean Green, bound for the inaugural New Orleans Bowl as the Sun Belt Conference champion, joins SMU (4-6 in 1963) and William & Mary (5-6 in 1970) as the only teams to play in a bowl game with losing records.

2003 — Sylvester Croom becomes the Southeastern Conference’s first black head football coach, accepting an offer to take over troubled Mississippi State.

2004 — McKendree College coach Harry Statham tops Dean Smith with his 880th victory, an 83-72 win over Maryville. Smith, with 879 wins, still holds the NCAA record for career victories because all of Statham’s wins are at the NAIA level.

2012 — Landon Donovan scores the tiebreaking goal on a penalty kick in the 65th minute, and David Beckham leaves the MLS as a two-time champion with the Galaxy’s 3-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo in the MLS Cup.

2013 — Josh Gordon has 10 catches for 261 yards and two touchdowns in Cleveland’s 32-20 loss to Jacksonville. He becomes the first player in NFL history to record 200 yards receiving in consecutive games.

2015 — The Philadelphia 76ers end the longest losing streak in the history of major professional sports in the United States, topping the Lakers 103-91 to snap a 28-game skid.

2018 — In a dramatic twist on last season’s national championship game, Jalen Hurts comes off the bench to pass for one touchdown and run for another in the fourth quarter, rallying No. 1 Alabama to a 35-28 win over No. 4 Georgia for the Southeastern Conference title.

2018 — Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury fights to a split draw, with Wilder retaining his WBC heavyweight title after knocking down his British challenger twice at Staples Center.

Supplied by the Associated Press

And finally

The Galaxy win the 2012 MLS Cup. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.