LOS ANGELES — It’s happened in Italy, where soccer games are being played in empty stadiums with no fans. The same thing happened with FIBA basketball games in Asia, they were played in empty stadiums. The Chinese Basketball Association season has been postponed.
With the novel coronavirus that has altered the world sports landscape now spreading in the United States — there are 330 known cases and 17 deaths in the USA, and the number of actual cases is likely much higher — the NBA wants to be prepared.
The NBA sent a memo to teams asking them to come up with plans “if it were to become necessary to play a game with only essential staff present.” Meaning playing in empty arenas with no fans or media reports the Associated Press, which saw the memo.
LeBron James is not down with that.
After being told of the memo following the Lakers’ impressive win over the Bucks Friday night, LeBron said if there are no fans in the building “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
There are currently no plans to cancel NBA games or play in empty arenas, the NBA just wants to be prepared, the memo said.
The league memo also said teams should be prepared “for the possibility of implementing temperature checks on players, team staff, referees, and anyone else who is essential to conducting such a game in the team’s arena.”
The NBA isn’t there, yet, but as the number of infections grows around the country it could force the league to take unprecedented steps.