Los Angeles Lakers

LeBron James on Possibility of NBA Playing Games Without Fans Because of Coronavirus: “I Ain't Playing”

The NBA sent out a memo telling teams to prepare for playing games without fans inside the arena. LeBron James responded on Friday.

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Hours after the NBA sent out a memo to teams to begin developing processes to play games without fans in attendance, the league's biggest superstar has chimed in with his thoughts on the subject.

"Nah, that's impossible," said Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James when asked about the possibility of playing an NBA game inside an empty arena. "I ain't playing. If I ain't got the fans in the crowd, that's what I play for. I play for my teammates. I play for the fans. That's what it's all about. If I show up to an arena, and there ain't no fans there? I ain't playing. So, they could do what they want to do.

According to ESPN and The Athletic, who each obtained copies of the memo, the NBA has asked teams to begin the process of identifying what would be required to play games without fans in attendance. Attendees for the games would be limited to only "essential staff," and in addition to fans, could also not include members of the media or other typical attendees like arena employees.

The memo is in response to the increasing concerns about the coronavirus, which as of Friday has infected more than 100,000 people worldwide, and is responsible for the deaths of over 3,200. There have been 15 deaths so far in the United States.

The new memo sent by the NBA, comes after officials met with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as other organizations to consult with experts on what do in the event the virus continues to spread throughout the country.

As of Friday, there are no immediate plans to cancel or postpone games, or hold them inside empty stadiums and arenas. In Italy, Japan, and South Korea, sporting events have already been postponed, or played with no audience.

Other NBA players are starting to voice their opinions on the subject as well. Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker said it would be "weird" to play an NBA game inside an empty arena, and hoped that it would not come to that.


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The newest memo sent out by the NBA comes on the heels of a previous memo sent earlier in the week, recommending that players use fist-bumps over high-fives when interacting with fans, and to avoid taking items such as pens, basketballs, and jerseys when signing autographs.

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