Lakers star LeBron James has no intention of playing if NBA games are staged behind closed doors due to fears over the spread of the coronavirus.
LeBron James on possibility of NBA playing games behind closed doors because of coronavirus. LeBron: “I ain’t playing” if there are no fans pic.twitter.com/kpHg6bsFYO— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) March 7, 2020
On Friday, The Athletic's Shams Charania reported that the league had sent memos to teams advising them to prepare for the possibility of games taking place without fans. Charania tweeted more details about the plan on Saturday.
That measure has already been implemented in Italy, where a government decree this week stated that all sporting events are to be played behind closed doors until April 3.
The outbreak originated in China but has spread across most of the world. There have been more than 300 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, where 17 people have died.
It has played havoc with the sporting calendar in many countries. For instance, Ligue 1 champion Paris Saint-Germain had its trip to Strasbourg postponed this weekend.
Despite that, one of the NBA's biggest names is not interested in the possibility of playing in empty arenas.
"We play games without the fans? Nah, it's impossible," James told reporters. "I ain't playing. If I ain't got the fans in the crowd, that's who I play for. I play for my teammates, the fans, that's what it's all about. If I show up to an arena and there ain't no fans in there, I ain't playing. They can do what they want to do. I ain't ever played the game without no fans, ever, since I started playing ball.
"I don't give a damn, this isn't Europe. They can do what they want to do."
Boston Celtics guard Kemba Walker also hopes it does not come to that for the NBA.
"That would be terrible," he said, as quoted by ESPN. "That would be boring. They might as well cancel the whole game before that. That would suck.
"But at the end of the day, it is getting serious. I don't know. It would be very weird, though, for sure."
James' Lakers teammate Alex Caruso, on the other hand, admitted he would understand if preventative measures were put in place.
"It's a nice privilege to be able to play basketball, but I would like to be able to live many, many years past this," Caruso said. "If it is a legit thing that needs to be done, do whatever you have to do. People watch on TV way more anyway."