The NBA is asking it’s teams to prepare a contingency plan to play games without fans if necessary because of the ongoing threat of the corona virus. But superstar LeBron James says he won’t play basketball in an empty arena.
According to ESPN, the league circulated a memo to its teams Friday telling them to prepare a plan in case it becomes necessary to play games without fans or media, as sports leagues in Europe have already done.
The memo detailed potential actions that teams might need to take “if it were to become necessary to play a game with only essential staff present.”
James scoffed at the idea and told reporters, “I ain’t playing. 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 there? I ain’t playing. So, they could do what they want to do.”
The NBA is asking that everyone identify the team and arena staff essential to conduct such a game and to develop processes for “communicating quickly and effectively with team and arena staff who are/aren’t essential for this purpose.”
The memo also said teams should also prepare for the possibility of implementing temperature checks on players, team staff, referees and anyone else essential to conducting a game.
Earlier this week a different memo urged teams and players to utilize fist-bumps over high-fives with fans and avoid touching items such as pens, balls and jerseys when giving autographs.