LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – As rumblings grow about the NBA and other major sports leagues possibly playing games without fans in attendance, the face of the Los Angeles Lakers appears to changing his take on the rumored plans.
In response to reports last week that the league has called for teams to be prepared in the event fans are not allowed to attend games, James initially rejected the idea.
“I ain’t playing,” he said after the Lakers beat the Milwaukee Bucks Friday night. “If I ain’t got the fans in the crowd, that’s what I play for. I play for my teammates, 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. So, they could do what they want to do.”
But video shared Tuesday on social media by ESPN reporter Mark Medina apeared to show James backing off his earlier statements.
“Obviously I would be very disappointed not having the fans, ’cause that’s what I play for,” he said. “But at the same time, you gotta listen to the people that’s keeping track of what’s going on.”
The media briefing was also notable for the unusual amount of space given to James and other players by reporters and camera crews in an apparent nod to concerns about coronavirus.
Lakers Shootaround today… Media keeping its distance pic.twitter.com/XADPa054Hx
— CBSLA Sports Central (@SportsCentralLA) March 10, 2020
The NBA is also making it mandatory for teams to distribute hand sanitizer to players and staff members in an attempt to prevent transmission of the virus and has previously instructed players to change how they interact with fans — advising they refrain from shaking hands and signing autographs.