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LeBron James Is Unsatisfied With NBA Coronavirus Memo

Gettyimages | Kevin C. Cox
By Adreon Patterson

NBA superstar LeBron James is not willing to play to empty arenas if the league enforces a rule banning fans in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

The NBA wants all the organizations and players to be prepared to play games without fans if necessary due to the spread of the virus in the U.S.

A memo courtesy of the league began circulating on Friday telling its teams to prepare in case it becomes necessary to play games without fans or media, as sports leagues in Europe have already done. The memo gave teams potential actions they could take “if it were to become necessary to play a game with only essential staff present.”

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James was asked about the possibility of playing to empty arenas after scoring 37 points in the Los Angeles Lakers won over the league-leading Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night. The NBA's leading active scorer was definitive in his stance.

“We play games without the fans? Nah, that’s impossible,” James stated. “I ain’t playing if I ain’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. 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.”

Unsplash | JC Gellidon

The memo, obtained by The Associated Press, mentioned that teams should identify which team and arena personnel would be necessary to conduct games while being able to communicate quickly with non-essential staff, ticket holders and corporate partners.

The memo went on to say that teams should be prepared “for the possibility of implementing temperature checks on players, team staff, referees, and anyone else who is essential to conducting such a game in the team’s arena.”

The league sent the memo as a precaution just in case the outbreak impacts upcoming games.

Gettyimages | Lintao Zhang

The letter even went as far as to tell teams to prepare a plan for scenarios where the media could attend games under revised media policies.

A previous memo from the league had already been sent to teams earlier in the week offering 10 recommendations for players with hopes of decreasing risks of getting and spreading the virus — among them, not taking items such as pens, markers, balls and jerseys from autograph seekers as well as giving fans fist pumps instead of hugs or handshakes.

Gettyimages | Kevin C. Cox

The COVID-19 has already affected the game of basketball on the college level.

An NCAA Division III men's basketball tournament game on the campus of Johns Hopkins University was played in an empty gym Friday in what was believed to be the first U.S. sports event held without fans because of the coronavirus.

An NCAA COVID-19 advisory panel stated it is “not recommending cancellation or public spacing of athletic and related events scheduled to occur in public spaces across the United States.”

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