EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — With the situation and safety measures concerning the coronavirus changing rapidly, LeBron James said he’d be disappointed if the NBA plays games without fans but that he would listen to whatever the league decides is the safest thing to do.
Last Friday, James said he would not play if there were no fans at NBA games when initially asked about the idea being considered with growing concerns over the coronavirus.
“Well it’s funny because when I was asked the question of would you play without no fans, I had no idea that there was actually a conversation going behind closed doors about the particular virus,” James said Tuesday. “Obviously I would be very disappointed not having the fans, because that is what I play for — I play for my family, I play for my fans.”
James, listed as questionable to play Tuesday against the Brooklyn Nets because of a sore left groin, said he plans to play against Brooklyn. The premise, though, of the possibility of having to play future games without fans in the building for safety precautions still doesn’t sit right with him.
But with safety concerns over the coronavirus growing daily, James understands that the powers that be are staying on top of the situation.
“They say no one could actually come to the game if they decide to go to that point, so I would be disappointed in that,” James said. “But at the same time, you got to listen to the people that’s keeping a track on what’s going on. If they feel like it’s best for the safety of the players, the safety of the franchise, the safety of the league to mandate that, then we all listen to it.”
Tuesday marked the first time that teams were abiding by the new pre- and postgame health safety measures instituted by the NBA, MLB, NHL and MLS to have all team locker rooms and clubhouses closed off to the media and nonessential team employees.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said the team doctor held a town hall meeting with the organization Monday to address the safety measures and the coronavirus.
This was the first time James spoke at a distance from reporters and cameras, with two roped-off areas to his side and cameras held 6 to 8 feet away in front of him.
It was something that James, one of the most accessible superstars used to talking to reporters up close in huge scrums was not used to.
James was asked if he felt safe under the “temporary” media settings instituted due to “issues that can be associated with close contact.”
“So much safer. You guys are such a threat every time I come out,” James said with a smile on his face. “No. No. … Listen, I have no idea what happened with — I miss you guys being right here — like right here in my bubble. Very challenging to do an interview like this.”