LeBron James says he'll listen if NBA bars fans over coronavirus

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- With the situation and safety measures concerning the coronavirus outbreak changing rapidly, LeBron James said he'd be disappointed if the NBA plays games without fans but that he would listen to whatever the league decides is the safest thing to do.

Last Friday,when initially asked about the idea, the Los Angeles Lakers star saidhe would not play if there were no fans at NBA games.

"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 Tuesday. "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, listed as questionable to play Tuesday against Brooklynbecause of a sore left groin, said he plans to play against the Nets. The premise, though, of playing future games without fans in the building still doesn't sit right with him.

"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."

LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, who was in San Francisco to face the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night, said he thinks the fans should decide whether the games will be played with no fans.

"I'm not sure, I've never done it. It will probably feel like a closed scrimmage," Leonard said. "I'm not sure how the feel will be. It will be very different if it does come to that. Hopefully the fans aren't mad or whatever. So it's up to them, I think we should just leave it up to the fans if they want to come to the games or not."

Leonard's teammate, Paul George, said regardless of whether players are worried, they all still have a job to do.

"The same like everybody else has a job to do, and they go out and they do their job," George said. "If it is fans [in the arena], if it isn't fans, again we got a job to do. We play ball, we hoop. And we'll go with it."

Tuesday marked the first time that teams were abiding by the new pre- and postgame health safety measures instituted by the NBA, MLB, NHL and MLS to have all team locker rooms and clubhouses closed off to the media and nonessential team employees.

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said the team doctor held a town hall meeting with the organization Monday to address the safety measures and the coronavirus.

This was the first time James spoke at a distance from reporters and cameras, with two roped-off areas to his side and cameras held 6 to 8 feet away in front of him.

It was something that James -- who is accustomed to talking to reporters up close, in huge scrums -- was not used to.

James was asked if he felt safe under the new protocol.

"So much safer. You guys are such a threat every time I come out," James said with a smile on his face. "No. No. ... Listen, I have no idea what happened with -- I miss you guys being right here. Like right here in my bubble. Very challenging to do an interview like this."

ESPN's Nick Friedell contributed to this report.

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