LeBron James has no intention of playing if NBA games are staged behind closed doors due to fears over the spread of the coronavirus. 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.
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 now spread across most of the world and there have been over 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 and Ligue 1 champion Paris Saint-Germain saw its trip to Strasbourg postponed this weekend, yet 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," the Los Angeles Lakers star 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 team-mates, 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."
However, James' Lakers team-mate Alex Caruso 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."
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