Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard made some notable comments recently when he suggested that the games in the NBA bubble were “way easier” than normal games. Those comments seemed to contradict Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, who said the NBA Bubble championship was one of the hardest in history. LeBron took some heat for those comments but Lillard came out and defended the superstar while clarifying his comments.
This wouldn’t be the first time that people have tried to use Lillard to start controversy. However, he’s been a big defender of LeBron in the past. By many accounts, the bubble wasn’t easy for players. While some had their families join them, others did not. For the Lakers and Miami Heat, they spent almost three months stuck in a hotel.
While the lack of travel was good for the health of players, being isolated from the rest of the world for an extended period had a negative effect on a number of guys.
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LeBron Still Uncomfortable Playing Without Fans
The lack of travel was good for players but the lack of fans also did lessen the excitement of games. If Anthony Davis hits that game-winner in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals in front of a packed Staples Center, it quickly becomes one of the most iconic shots in Lakers history. The purple and gold always draw a packed house so it’ll definitely be hard for them to play in the Staples Center with no fans.
“It’ll never be something that’s comfortable, something I can be accustomed to or something that will feel regular,” LeBron said, per Mark Medina of the USA Today. “When I first started playing organized sports, [fans] were there. It’s all a part of it. The fans are a part of this game.”
Part of the excitement of winning a championship is being able to celebrate with the fans after. The Lakers haven’t been able to do that quite yet but fans will be able to return at some point in the future.
LeBron Hoping Fans Can Return Soon
For this upcoming season, fans don’t seem likely to attend games, especially in Los Angeles. The NBA playoffs are still months away so it’s possible that something changes but it doesn’t sound like LeBron is banking on playing in front of fans anytime soon.
“I would never want to get fully committed to that or fully comfortable with that because I believe at some point we will get back to it,” LeBron said of playing in front of fans. “Hopefully I’m still playing. Hopefully I’m still in uniform. That’s the hope, obviously. I believe it will happen sooner than later.”
LeBron has at least three years left on his Lakers contract and it’s reasonable to believe that fans will be back in stands within that span. The team proved that they could win a title without fans so it shouldn’t affect them too much.