Last week, LeBron James made headlines when he said he wouldn't be willing to play in empty arenas, should the NBA's concerns over the coronavirus (COVID-19) deem it necessary.
“Play games without the fans?” James said to reporters on Friday. “Nah. Impossible. I ain’t playing. If I ain’t got fans in the crowd, that’s who I play for."
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, however, James clarified his comments, sharing that he was unaware of the full context of the question he had previously been posed.
"I had no idea that there was actually a conversation going on behind closed doors about the particular virus,” James said following Lakers shootaround.
And while James maintained that he'd prefer to play in front of an audience, he also seemed to indicate that he would be willing to play should the NBA limit its spectators in the coming days.
“Obviously, I would be very disappointed not having the fans, because that’s what I play for," James said. “I’d be disappointed in that. At the same time, you gotta listen to the people that’s keeping a track on what’s going on. If they feel it’s best for the safety of the players, the safety of the franchise, the safety of the league to mandate that, then we’ll all listen to them.”
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA has put plans in place to potentially limit attendance at games to only essential team personnel. On Wednesday, the league's owners and governors are expected to hold a conference call to discuss their next steps in dealing with the crisis.
On Tuesday, Ohio governor Mike DeWine recommended that spectators not attend indoor sporting events, including at the professional level. James' Lakers are scheduled to face the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on March. 26.