Like everyone in every corner of society, the NBA is working on figuring out what it needs to do as COVID-19 continues to spread and impact folks worldwide. Multiple media reports indicated that the league sent out a memo to teams on Friday night, one that included the suggestion that games may have to be played in arenas with no fans in them.
The memo also mentioned that “essential staff” would only be in attendance, too, but cutting off games to fans turned a whole lot of heads. While it comes from a good place and is something that is happening in Italy in an attempt to limit the spread of coronavirus, the concept of playing NBA games in empty stadiums is hard to wrap heads around.
It also doesn’t appear to be an especially popular proposal, at least in the eyes of LeBron James. Following the Los Angeles Lakers’ win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night, James was asked about potentially playing in an empty arena, and made it clear that if fans aren’t able to come to games, he’s not going to play in them.
LeBron James addresses the #NBA issuing a memo on the possibility of playing games without fans in the arena.
“Play games without the fans? No, that’s impossible…I ain’t playing.” pic.twitter.com/CRVl9XVbMl
— Lauren A. Jones (@LoJoMedia) March 7, 2020
“We play games without the fans?” James asked. “Nah, that’s impossible. 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, play for the fans, that’s what it’s all about. So, if I show up to an arena and there ain’t no fans in there, I ain’t playing, so they can do what they wanna do.”
This isn’t the only precaution the league is considering taking, as Shams Charania of The Athletic tweeted that the NBA may follow the NHL’s lead and keep media members out of locker rooms.
The NBA is discussing limiting locker room access only to players and team personnel due to coronavirus situation, with media handled via other settings to protect everyone, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 7, 2020
But of course, that is nowhere near as big of a deal as playing games in empty arenas. Perhaps this will change when he isn’t ostensibly being made aware of the idea in a postgame media scrum, but James’ sentiment comes from a really good place, and it’s something the league will have to deal with in the event that fans do need to stay at home for safety concerns.