“I ain’t playing,” James said after the Lakers defeated the Bucks on Friday night, per USA Today’s Mark Medina. “I ain’t got the fans in the crowd. That’s who 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 are no fans in there, I ain’t playing. They can do what they want to do.”
There’s no indication at this point that the league intends to play any games behind closed doors — this week’s memo was simply advising teams to make preparations in case the situation worsens in the coming days or weeks. However, James insisted that playing without fans in the stands cannot be done.
“We play games without the fans?” James asked. “Nah, it’s impossible.”
As the number of coronavirus cases around the world and in the U.S. has increased, the NBA has released statements at various junctures. Last Saturday, the league said it was working closely with the Center for Disease Control but not anticipating any schedule changes.
“The health and safety of our employees, teams, players and fans is paramount,” that statement read. “We are coordinating with our teams and consulting with the CDC and infectious disease specialists on the coronavirus and continue to monitor the situation closely.”
In another memo, the league warned teams that pre-draft combines and international scouting events could be impacted by the outbreak.