Nearly a week ago, LeBron James stood in front of his locker and told reporters he couldn’t imagine playing NBA games without fans in attendance. After the NBA suspended its season in response to the growing threat of COVID-19, or the coronavirus, the Los Angeles Lakers star was being forced to think about the prospect of no games at all, at least for a while.
“Man we cancelling sporting events, school, office work, etc etc. What we really need to cancel is 2020!” James tweeted, followed by a facepalm emoji. “Damn it’s been a rough 3 months. God bless and stay safe.”
James ended his post with a praying hands emoji, and it’s all he’s said on the matter. He’s one of the few Lakers to publicly comment so far. The team sent a tweet on Wednesday night with instructions on how fans could get refunded for lost games, with the promise of more information on Thursday.
Teams are still allowed to practice (Update: Never mind), but for now, the Lakers have no session scheduled on Thursday. The team is, however, allowing players to come to the facility for treatment while asking employees to work from home, according to Tania Ganguli of the L.A. Times.
As of Wednesday night, the players were in their group chat, reacting to the news along with the rest of the world as they awaited instructions from the team on their official next steps, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Aside from James and forward Jared Dudley, guard Danny Green was the only one to offer significant comment publicly.
Looking fairly sullen in a backwards baseball cap, Green sat alongside his podcast co-host Harrison Sanford in a video they put out on their “Inside the Green Room” Twitter account. As Sanford described how events were unfolding, Green fidgeted his fingers, crossing and uncrossing his arms, appearing to be as visibly uncomfortable and anxious as many of the rest of us.
“First and foremost I want to send our condolences and our prayers out to those affected. Families, NBA players and everyone else who has been in contact. Wishing them a speedy recovery and the best in the near future,” Green said. “These are the necessary precautions they have to take.”
It’s unclear how long those precautions will be necessary. Dallas Mavericks team governor Mark Cuban theorized as much as a 60-day suspension of play, and that he could see games extending into August this year. Elsewhere, Toronto Raptors players are being quarantined for 14 days, which is the CDC minimum for those exposed to coronavirus (the Raptors played against the Utah Jazz, who have had two players — Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell — test positive for the virus).
Dudley had a fairly positive takeaway from that last part:
This is actually good news! No other profession is around guys more then NBA.. From sweating, high fives, on the planes and bus and too have only one test positive is a great sign.. https://t.co/Ia2MWMCgBS— Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) March 12, 2020
But for players or personnel who contract the coronavirus like Mitchell and Gobert did, the quarantine period is potentially longer than two weeks, as according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, the decision to release a patient who has tested positive for coronavirus from isolation “is made on a case by case basis,” and the patient must meet all of the following requirements:
- The patient is free from fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.
- The patient is no longer showing symptoms, including cough.
- The patient has tested negative on at least two consecutive respiratory specimens collected at least 24 hours apart.
And it may not even be fully up to the league when it gets to resume. The state of California has temporarily suggested that gatherings of more than 250 people not be held, and other states and cities are imposing even stricter restrictions. All of that means that with as contagious as COVID-19 appears to be, the NBA could be in for a long stoppage. Green — like surely many of the rest of us — is hoping such less optimistic scenarios don’t come to pass.
“Obviously it sucks and is unfortunate, but we want to continue to play basketball. The fans want to continue to watch basketball, and we want to continue to entertain you guys as best we can,” Green said. “But these are the right steps we need to take. The NBA is making the right call. Hopefully it’ll get back up and running in the right direction soon.”
For more information on the coronavirus and preventative measures, visit cdc.gov/coronavirus. For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.