After some comments over the weekend that caused a stir on the coronavirus threat, Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James is backtracking just a bit on his stance.
When asked if he would play a game without fans in the building due to the outbreak of COVID-19, James gave a hard no on Friday after beating the Bucks.
“We play games without the fans? Nah, that’s impossible,” James told reporters. “I’m not playing if we don’t got the fans in the crowd. That’s who I play for. I play for my teammates and I play for 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.”
James was a more diplomatic with his response on Tuesday while speaking to reporters.
“When I was asked the question of ‘Would you play without no fans?’, I had no idea that it was actually a conversation going on behind closed doors about the particular virus,” James said. “Obviously, I would be very disappointed not having the fans, because thats what I play for … At the same time, you gotta listen to the people that’s keeping a track on what’s going on. If they feel it’s best for the safety of the players, the safety of the franchise, the safety of the league to mandate that, then we’ll all listen to them.”
Sports World Reacting to Coronavirus Outbreak
The NBA has already closed locker rooms to everyone except players and essential personnel. During the Lakers interviews on Tuesday, there was a barrier put up around players and coaches that kept media members further away in response to the outbreak.
The MLB, NBA, NHL and MLS issued a joint statement on Monday outlining their plans for locker rooms and facilities.
“After consultation with infectious disease and public health experts, and given the issues that can be associated with close contact in pre- and post-game settings, all team locker rooms and clubhouses will be open only to players and essential employees of teams and team facilities until further notice. Media access will be maintained in designated locations outside of the locker room and clubhouse setting,” the statement said.
Ivy League Cancels Tournament Over Coronavirus Concerns
While no cancellations of NBA games have been announced, the Ivy League decided to cancel their conference tournament for college basketball on Tuesday.
“We understand and share the disappointment with student-athletes, coaches and fans who will not be able to participate in these tournaments,” Ivy League Executive Director Robin Harris said in a statement. “Regrettably, the information and recommendations presented to us from public health authorities and medical professionals have convinced us that this is the most prudent decision.”
Yale won the regular season and will go on to participate in the NCAA Tournament with the league’s berth. There are no plans at this point to cancel the 64-team NCAA Tournament.