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NBA reportedly moving towards playing in empty arenas to combat spread of coronavirus

The Lakers — and the rest of the NBA — are likely going to be playing in mostly empty gyms while the league does its part to halt the spread of coronavirus.

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Cleveland Cavaliers v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

UPDATE: The NBA has cancelled its season after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert reportedly tested positive for coronavirus.

Original story continued below.

As the country continues to look for solutions to slow the spread of COVID-19, or coronavirus, in the United States, the NBA is moving towards playing games in empty arenas rather than postponing the season, according to reporting from Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe of ESPN:

Marc Stein of the New York Times reported that a similar call is scheduled with the league’s general managers for Thursday.

One other option on the table, per Wojnarowski, was moving games to cites that had yet to suffer outbreaks, or to neutral sites. In some cases, the decision is being taken out of the NBA's hands, like in San Francisco, where a ban on gatherings of over 1,000 people is affecting Golden State Warriors games.

The league also joined with the MLB, MLS, and NHL in barring media members and other personnel deemed “nonessential” from locker rooms. Back on March 6, a memo was sent to teams instructing them to have plans in place in the event that “it were to become necessary to play a game with only essential staff present.”

At the time, Lakers star LeBron James said he wanted no part of that plan, but later said he misunderstood the question, and that he would play in games in empty arenas should the league take the step of making such a change.

“If they’re saying no one can actually come to the game, if they decide to go to that point, I’d be disappointed in that. But at the same time, you’ve 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’ll all listen to it.”

As a reminder, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is asking people to:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

This story will be updated with more information. For more information on the coronavirus, visit

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