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LeBron James says there’s ‘no joy’ in playing basketball without fans

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If the Lakers are going to compete for a championship this season, LeBron James may have to settle for playing basketball without fans.

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Los Angeles Lakers v Chicago Bulls Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

During a press conference on Tuesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said that it’s “unlikely’ that the state will allow mass gatherings in the months of June, July or August, meaning that if the Los Angeles Lakers are going to resume their season this summer, it will have to be in a different state or in a stadium with no fans.

LeBron James has already been pretty vocal about not wanting to play without fans, but in an interview with Dave McMenamin of ESPN before Newsom’s announcement, James elaborated on why he’d prefer to play in front of fans, if possible:

“What is the word ‘sport’ without ‘fan’?” James asked. “There’s no excitement. There’s no crying. There’s no joy. There’s no back-and-forth.

“... That’s what also brings out the competitive side of the players to know that you’re going on the road in a hostile environment and yes, you’re playing against that opponent in front of you, but you really want to kick the fans’ ass too.

“So to get back on the floor, I would love it. I’m not going to sit here and say nothing. Like, if it’s get out there and get back on the floor 5-on-5 ... but like, we can do that in scrimmages. Let’s just go to each other’s practice facility, put out a camera, just scrimmage and livestream it. ... I just don’t know how we can imagine a sporting event without fans. It’s just, it’s a weird dynamic.”

All that being said, James seems to understand that the only way a champion will be crowned for the 2019-20 season is if games are played in empty stadiums, so he’s trying to come around to the idea, even if it’s clearly not his first choice:

“If it comes to a point if we’re playing without our fans, we still know that we have Laker faithful with us in spirit,” he said. “We know they’ll be home cheering us on, online, on their phones, on their tablets watching us playing, so hopefully we can bottle that energy that we know we’re getting from them. Bottle that loyalty that they’ve had for not only this year, but since the Lakers have been in Los Angeles.

”So hopefully we’re able to channel that. Channel that energy, channel that focus and bring them with us if we’re either at Staples without fans or we’re somewhere in an isolated location playing the game of basketball.”

If we’re being honest, it’s going to be a lot harder for the players than it will be for the fans watching at home. While we’ll be able to celebrate when Alex Caruso messes around and wins the Lakers a playoff game on the road, they won’t be able to hear it.

Hopefully the Lakers will be able to re-live the fans’ reactions to every play after game via social media. It’s obviously not the same thing, but Lakers fans know how to throw a party on Twitter, and with how silent even the televised games promise to be, it seems like that’s all we’re going to have.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @RadRivas.