LeBron James took back his controversial comments from last Friday about the possibility of the NBA barring fans from games over concerns about the coronavirus.
James told reporters on Friday, "Play games without the fans? I ain't playing. If I ain't got the fans in the crowd, that who I play for."
The Los Angeles Lakers star stressed that what he is doing on the court is for the fans and his teammates, and so he would not be playing in an empty arena. He added that such a situation is simply "impossible."
But on Tuesday, with coronavirus cases and deaths in the U.S. rising, LeBron said that while his previous comment is still true, the spread of the COV-19 needs to be taken seriously.
"Obviously, I would be very disappointed not having the fans, cause that's what I play for. But at the same time, you gotta listen to the people that's keeping track of what's going on," LeBron shared. "And if they feel it best for the safety of the players, the safety of the franchise and league to mandate that, then we all listen to it."
Speaking to reporters, LeBron clarified that he was not sure of the full context of the question he had previously been asked.
"It's funny because I was asked the question of 'Would you play with no fans,' I had no idea that it was actually a conversation going on behind closed doors about the particular virus."
LeBron James has a new stance on his sentiments of possibly playing games without fans in the arena pic.twitter.com/RbmNKiOTp6 — Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) March 10, 2020
Due to concerns over the fast spreading coronavirus, the NBA -- along with many other major sports leagues -- has established new safety procedures involving the media.
The media was kept at a distance when LeBron made his latest comments -- a move that all teams are adopting to keep players safe.
Locker rooms are now off-limits, and there needs to be a six to eight feet gap required between players and media for press gatherings.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the association has put plans in place to potentially limit attendance at games to only essential team personnel.
The NBA has already created several policies in an attempt to prevent the spread of the coronavirus within the teams and players. One of them suggested to players not to accept jerseys and balls and to avoid signing autographs for the fans.
They were also warned not to give out high-fives and that all players and staff should have hand sanitizers at all times.
The men's NCAA Tournament already held games without fans because of the concerns for the coronavirus, while the Ivy League cancelled its tournament altogether.
In Europe, soccer games were played behind closed doors, while all sporting events in Italy have been suspended following the country's lockdown.
A German hockey league has cancelled the rest of the season and a major tennis tournament in the U.S. that was scheduled for this week was also recently cancelled.
If the COVID-19 continues to spread, it will be no surprise if the NBA also takes the same measure, though it is clear the league is preparing for that possibility -- with top executives and the association's owners set to hold a meeting for it on Wednesday.