After the NBA sent a memo instructing teams to prepare to possibly play in empty arenas amid the COVID-19 (also known as the coronavirus) outbreak, Lakers superstar LeBron James said he will not play under those conditions, per USA Today’s Mark Medina:
“I ain’t playing. I ain’t got the fans in the crowd. That’s who 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 are no fans in there, I ain’t playing. They can do what they want to do.”
It remains to be seen if the coronavirus outbreak worsens in the coming days/weeks to the point where the league needs to take extreme measures. However, James insisted that playing without fans in the stands cannot be done.
“We play games without the fans?” James asked. “Nah, it’s impossible.”
With the spread of the deadly disease, the NBA has released statements at various junctures. Last Saturday, the NBA said it was working closely with the Center for Disease Control but not anticipating any schedule changes. The NBA's statement read:
“The health and safety of our employees, teams, players and fans is paramount. We are coordinating with our teams and consulting with the CDC and infectious disease specialists on the coronavirus and continue to monitor the situation closely.”
In another statement, the league said that predraft combines and international scouting events could be impacted by the outbreak.
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