LeBron James wants to play in front of fans, but with coronavirus fears continuing to grow, he understands that the NBA has to do what's best for the league and the fans who attend games. Last Friday, James said he would not play if NBA fans were barred from playing games due to the coronavirus concerns. When asked about it again on Tuesday, he had a change of heart.
"Well it's funny, because when I was asked the question of would you play without no fans, I had no idea that there was actually a conversation going behind closed doors about the particular virus," James said to reporters per ESPN. "Obviously, I would be very disappointed not having the fans, because that is what I play for -- I play for my family, I play for my fans."
James went on to say he would understand the move if it protects the fans and players.
"They say no one could actually come to the game if they decide to go to that point, so I would be disappointed in that," James said. "But at the same time, you got to listen to the people that's keeping a track on what's going on. If they feel like it's best for the safety of the players, the safety of the franchise, the safety of the league to mandate that, then we all listen to it."
On Friday, the three-time NBA champion made it clear he wasn't going to play if fans couldn't attend.
"We play games without the fans? Nah, that's impossible," James said following the Los Angeles Lakers' win over the Milwaukee Bucks. "I ain't playing if I ain't got the fans in the crowd. That's who I play for. I play for my teammates, and I play for the fans. That's what it's all about. So if I show up to an arena and there ain't no fans in there, I ain't playing. They can do what they want to do."
"Due to escalating concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, and in consultation with the City and County of San Francisco, tomorrow night's game vs. the Nets at Chase Center will be played without fans," the team said in a statement on Twitter. Fans with tickets to this game will receive a refund in the amount paid."