LeBron James walks back refusal to play games in empty arenas
LeBron James is walking back his vow not to play in games held without fans in attendance amid the coronavirus outbreak, and instead has opted to soften his stance amid the nationwide health crisis.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday, the Los Angeles Lakers superstar acknowledged that the safety of fans, players, team personnel and arena staff should come first before the ominous optics of playing games in empty arenas.
LeBron James has a new stance on his sentiments of possibly playing games without fans in the arena pic.twitter.com/RbmNKiOTp6— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) March 10, 2020
“Obviously I would be very disappointed not having the fans with us … but at the same time, you gotta listen to the people that are keeping track of what’s going on,” James said. “If they feel like it’s best for the safety of the players, safety of the franchise, safety of the league to mandate that, then we all would listen to them.”
James’ remarks Tuesday are a stark reversal to what he had to say just days ago about the pressing and complex public health issues that the NBA — not to mention other leagues, professional and otherwise — have had to confront due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
Put plainly, James stated that if there are no fans in attendance, “I ain’t playing.”
LeBron James on possibility of NBA playing games behind closed doors because of coronavirus. LeBron: “I ain’t playing” if there are no fans pic.twitter.com/kpHg6bsFYO— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) March 7, 2020
The NBA was expected to have plans in place by Tuesday to address how the league would address the myriad issues brought forth by the still-developing coronavirus outbreak, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported, at least in the short term.
The goal obviously is to keep players safe by limiting their exposure to potentially contracting the coronavirus, not to mention limit the transmission of it should a case be diagnosed in the league.
James appears to be now much more on board with that sensible approach compared to the stance he set forth over the weekend.