LeBron James reiterated Monday that he is hopeful the NBA season can resume, with the caveat that the health and well-being of players won’t be jeopardized by a return to play.
The Los Angeles Lakers star, speaking on the Uninterrupted platform’s “WRTS: After Party” show that was released Monday, said it remains his wish that the season comes back “sooner than later.” The NBA suspended the season on March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic, and two unidentified members of the Lakers were among the league’s players who subsequently tested positive for the virus.
“Definitely not giving up on the season,” James said. “Not only myself and my teammates, the Lakers organization, we want to play. There’s a lot of players that I know personally that want to play. And obviously, we don’t ever want to jeopardize the health of any of our players or any of the players’ families and so on and so on.
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“This is a pandemic that we have no idea (about). We can’t control it,” James added.
James was among a group of some of the league’s highest-paid players, National Basketball Players Association president Chris Paul of the Oklahoma City Thunder also part of the group, who met last week to talk about the season. Those players affirmed to one another on that call that they would like to see the season resume.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told players’ union members on May 8 that he was hoping to make some sort of decision about the future of the season within no more than a four-week window. By that timeframe — barring any adjustments based on what's happening with the pandemic — Silver and the NBA would be hoping to decide upon some course of action by June 5.
That said, there has been no definitive timetable from the NBA on when a decision would be made. The league is prepping for many options.
As of Monday, just over half of the league’s 30 franchises had reopened their practice facilities for voluntary workouts. But other sports are showing promising signs, with NASCAR restarting its season this past weekend, baseball working through some plans that could lead to a summer opening day, and live golf returning to television Sunday with a skins game in South Florida.
“We’re seeing a lot of sporting events, UFC, soccer, we’re hearing baseball’s about to get going in a little bit,” James said. “You know, I want to get back to playing. I love to play the game of basketball. I know how inspiring the game of basketball is. I know how inspiring sport is, itself. As soon as possible, when we can get back out there, we’d love to bring the game of basketball back to our fans.”
James and the Lakers were atop the Western Conference standings when the NBA suspended play. At 49-14, the NBA’s second-best record behind Milwaukee, the Lakers had already clinched what would be their first playoff spot since 2013.
“I know we all miss it,” James said. “I’d be sitting here lying if I said we don’t.”