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LeBron James Says He's Not Playing If NBA Fans Are Barred From Games Because Of Coronavirus

Gettyimages | Zhong Zhi
By Clark Sparky

As concerns about the Coronavirus in the United State continue to rise -- as do the number of those infected -- the National Basketball Association sent a memo to every team in the league about potentially preparing to play games with no fans in the arena.

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CNBC got a copy of the memo and detailed its contents:

The NBA said teams should identify “actions required if it were to become necessary to play a game with only essential staff present” without fans or media, according to a copy of the memo obtained by CNBC.

The memo said teams should also “prepare 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.”

Teams were also advised to consider payroll and benefit implications for “non-essential staff” who would not work games closed to the public. The memo also stated teams should have plans in place to communicate with ticketholders and corporate partners should games be played privately.

On Friday, Lakers star LeBron James was asked his thoughts on potentially playing games in empty areas.

"We play games without the fans? Nah, that's impossible," James said following the teams' win over the Milwaukee Bucks. "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."

It's not just players who are against the idea -- Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta isn't a fan either. From Popculture.com:

"I don't think you ever want to play games in front of no audiences," Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta said during an appearance on Power Lunch. He would instead prefer to suspend play "for a week, or two weeks or whatever."

"But you don't want to play games with no fans," he said. "That's never going to work."

As CNBC notes, the virus has already impacted some sporting events, and could potentially affect the upcoming NCAA Tournament:

The NCAA announced its Division III men’s basketball tournament at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore will be played without spectators.

Currently, the upcoming NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament will be played as scheduled, as the organization’s coronavirus advisory panel said it doesn’t recommend “cancellation or public spacing of athletic and related events scheduled to occur in public spaces across the United States.”

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