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LeBron James backs off stance on refusing to play games in empty arenas

LeBron James has reversed his stance on refusing to play games in empty arenas should the NBA prevent fans from attending games over fears of spreading the coronavirus. "You got to listen to the people that's keeping track of what's going on," the Lakers star told reporters Tuesday.

James initially balked at the idea of playing games without fans present last week.

"We play games without the fans? Nah, that's impossible," James told reporters Friday. "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."

As reporters were kept at a distance Tuesday, James backed off on those comments, saying that at the time he didn't even realize the NBA had even been discussing the possibility.

"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. James added he would be "disappointed" if the NBA were to enact such measures.

"But at the same time, you got to listen to the people that's keeping track of what's going on," James said. "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."

The league has enacted a number of policies in an attempt to prevent the spread of coronavirus throughout the league. Among them, players have been warned not to accept items such as jerseys, balls and pens from fans to sign autographs. Players have also been warned not to give fans high-fives and teams are being required to distribute hand sanitizer to all players and staff.

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