LeBron James has changed his mind about playing in an empty arena to keep fans and players from catching or spreading the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Lakers star said that he wouldn’t play if fans weren’t allowed to watch games, but gave a different take on Tuesday, March 10 in Los Angeles after a team practice.
“Well, it’s funny because when I was asked the question of ‘Would you play with no fans,’ I had no idea that it was actually a conversation going on behind closed doors about the particular virus,” said James.
“Obviously, I would be very disappointed not having the fans, because that’s what I play for, my family and my fans,” he added.
“But at the same time, you got to listen to the people that’s keeping track of what’s going on, and if they feel like it’s best for the safety of the players, safety of the franchise, safety of the league to mandate that, then we all listen to it,” James explained.
According to reports, as of Wednesday March 11, more than 1,000 people have been infected by the coronavirus in the United States and there are at least 118,000 cases worldwide, with more than 4,200 deaths. The World Health Organization on Wednesday, March 11, called the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.
The NBA reportedly sent out a memo last week and warned teams of the possibility of not playing in front of fans because of coronavirus concerns.
James’ first comments about the idea came on Friday, March 6 after the Lakers beat the Milwaukee Bucks in Los Angeles’ Staples Center.
“Nah, it’s impossible. I ain’t playing,” said James when he was told about the possible safety measure. “That’s who I play for. I play for my teammates, I 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. They can do what they want to do.”