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NBA asks teams to prepare for games without fans due to coronavirus – and LeBron James is not having it

Coronavirus hits more than half of U.S. states

The NBA has asked teams to have several contingency plans in place by Tuesday to help prevent the spread of coronavirus at games, CBS Sports reports. The league is holding a conference call on Monday to discuss next steps in battling the virus, according to ESPN Senior NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski. 

Teams may have to limit the number of people who interact with players, Wojnarowski reports. In another memo sent to teams last week, the league indicated teams should also prepare for the possibility of playing games without fans, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports. 

At least one player is really hoping that doesn't come to fruition. On Friday, LeBron James pushed back against the idea of playing in empty arenas.   

"We play games without the fans? Nah, that's impossible," James told reporters after the Lakers' game against the Milwaukee Bucks, according to video from Bleacher Report. "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."

On Saturday, CBS Sports said empty NBA games do not seem imminent; however, a Division III NCAA men's basketball tournament game was played without fans on Friday, a step that had only been taken overseas before then. 

At this point, NBA teams have been advised to prepared for the implementation of different plans. They are also assessing the potential impact of coronavirus on pre-draft scouting visits and workouts overseas. These could be limited or canceled entirely due to the virus, CBS Sports reports. 

The Global Hoops Summit and NBA Draft Combine are to proceed as scheduled, according to CBS Sports.

Plans for several other major events in the U.S. have been changed due to the coronavirus. The South by Southwest festival in Austin has been canceled and the Ultra music festival in Miami has been postponed. Several bands, including popular K-pop group BTS, canceled Asian legs of their tours. Google's News Initiative was canceled and Facebook's F8 developer conference has been modified. Disney even shut down its resorts in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo, though U.S. parks remain open.

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