Lakers’ LeBron James walks back statement about potentially playing games without fans due to coronavirus


Due to concerns over the rapidly spreading coronavirus (COVID-19), the NBA along with many other major sports leagues have instituted new safety measures involving media. Locker rooms are now off limits, and a six-to-eight feet gap is required between players and media for press gatherings.

Considering the new guidelines, memos sent to teams and practices implemented overseas, it seems things are trending toward playing games with no fans in attendance. A few days ago, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, who is still the face of the league, said ‘I ain’t playing’ if that ends up being the case

On Tuesday, however, James clarified his comments. While he admits he would be “disappointed” if that is the outcome, he understands the need for safety. He also says when he was first asked about that kind of scenario, he wasn’t aware it was a real possibility already being discussed. 

LeBron’s full comment:

When I was asked the question, ‘would you play without no fans?’ I had no idea there was a conversation going on behind closed doors about the particular virus. Obviously I would be very disappointed not having the fans, because that’s what I play for — I play for my family, I play for the fans. They said no one could actually come to the game if they decide to go to that point, so I’d be disappointed in that, but at the same time you gotta listen to the people that keep track of what’s going on. If they feel like it’s best for the safety of the players, safety of the franchise, safety of the league to mandate that, then we’ll all listen to it.

Soccer leagues across Europe have moved games behind closed doors, while all sporting events in Italy have been suspended through April 3 following the country’s lockdown. Meanwhile, a German hockey league cancelled the rest of the season, and in the U.S., a major tennis tournament scheduled for this week was recently cancelled

If the virus continues to spread, similar measures may have to be adopted by the NBA, and it’s clear the league is preparing for that possibility, with a meeting to be reportedly held Wednesday involving the league and its owners and execs. While it would definitely be disappointing as LeBron says, safety and health for everyone comes before sports. 

Whether it’s playing with no fans, or postponing the season for some period of time, it certainly seems like the rest of the NBA calendar will not go on as usual. 





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