Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James says that he will follow the advice of coronavirus experts after previously vowing he wouldn’t be agreeable to the idea of playing NBA games inside empty arenas.
This comes amid fears that sports fixtures in the US could follow suit from some European countries by banning fans from attending live events, or any large-scale public gatherings, as attempts to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 continue.
James stated several days ago that he “ain’t playing” in empty arenas and that the reason he plays the sport is for the fans.
But as authorities grapple with the ever-worsening public health crisis it seems as though the three-time NBA champion’s stance has changed.
“I had no idea that it was actually a conversation going on behind closed doors about the particular virus,” James said to the media following a Lakers practice on Tuesday.
“Obviously, I would be very disappointed not having the fans, because that’s who I play for. I play for my family, I play for my fans.
“At the same time, you gotta listen to the people that’s keeping track on what’s going on … and 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 will all listen to it.”
‘I’d be very disappointed not having the fans because that’s what I play for. I play for my family, I play for my fans.’ LeBron on the recent talks of having empty stadiums due to the coronavirus outbreak. 🙌🏽(🎥: @MarkG_Medina) pic.twitter.com/RcugImHSbx
— Sports ON Tap (@SONTHighlights) March 10, 2020
The NBA is understood to be discussing the potential of holding games behind closed doors with various team owners on Wednesday and would follow suit from some of the measures being taken in various sports across Europe and Asia.
The Italian football league, Serie A, has suspended all games until the end of the season, due to Italy being one of the most affected regions outside of the initial outbreak of Covid-19 in China.
“It would be very unfortunate for our game,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said of potential safety measures being taken. “Just make the most of a difficult situation and do the right thing. If that’s the right thing to do because there’s a need for containment, then we understand. We get it and we’ll make the best of it.”
Earlier this week, the NBA, MLS, NHL and MLB released a joint statement in which they said they were restricting access to reporters and media in backstage or locker room settings.
“We’ll keep the main thing the main thing,” James continued. “Obviously, we’re going to listen to whatever protocol is going on with this issue. Obviously, we got great people upstairs that will do what is best for the franchise.
“When we have the games, we maintain our focus. We’ve had a lot of things that have been good and bad with our season. It put us in position where we had to think about the game and do other th