Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James said he has no interest in playing in games if there aren’t any fans in attendance.
It was something that he spoke about on Friday, March 6, after the Lakers defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 113-103 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
James was asked about playing in an empty arena after it was reported that the NBA sent a memo that said teams should prepare for this possibility because of the coronavirus.
It’s something that’s already being done in Japan, Italy and Switzerland in sports like baseball, soccer and hockey.
“We play games without the fans?” asked James, as he seemingly wanted to confirm what a reporter told him about the possibility. “Nah, it’s impossible. I ain’t playing. If they 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,” he added. “So 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.”
According to the New York Times, in a report published on March 9, there have been more than 110,000 people infected by the virus in at least 97 countries, with over 500 cases in the United States.
Italy, Iran, China, South Korea and Japan are other countries where the virus has spread, with China being hit the hardest so far.
ESPN reported the NBA sent another memo also the week of March 6 that encouraged players to fist bump fans instead of shaking their hands to help keep the virus from spreading.
The league also has suggested that players not touch things given to them by fans, like jerseys to sign and pens.
On Feb. 29, Portland Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum said he’d be taking a break from signing autographs because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The Corona Virus has officially hit Oregon, More specifically Lake Oswego,” he tweeted. “Make sure y’all washing y’all hands with soap for 20 or more seconds & covering ya mouths when you cough. I am officially taking a break from signing autographs until further notice.”