When the Los Angeles Lakers won their last championship in 2010, they did it front of their fans at Staples Center. The year before, in 2009, the Lakers celebrated their championship on the Orlando Magic’s floor, with a mix of fans from both teams looking on.
If the Lakers win it all again this year, they won’t celebrate in front of any fans — rival or otherwise — because of the threat of the coronavirus. The possibility of playing the rest of the season without fans first arose in March, so players have had ample time to come to terms with their new reality. However, it’s yet to become a reality because they still haven’t returned to the court. That will all change later this month.
In a conference call with reporters on Thursday, Anthony Davis talked about the challenges the Lakers could face in a game without fans, and how they plan to overcome it.
“Obviously we feed off Laker Nation. Home and on the road,” Davis said. “Obviously it’s going to be very different not being able to have them by our side during this time, but everybody is going to deal with it. It’s going to be more of a mental thing than anything.
“If you’re coming out having a bad game there’s not going to be fans there trying to get you going. You’re going to have to, as we say on the team, ‘bring your own energy.’ We’re going to have to make sure that we do that every night, especially with no fans. I think we’re motivated as a team and self-motivated to win, but it’s definitely going to be different for all of us.”
Games will also feel different for the fans at home. During a normal NBA broadcast, fan noise is an important part of the virtual game experience, so it will be interesting to see if the league decides to try and replicate that experience using NBA 2K crowd noise like Shams Charania of The Athletic reported last month, or if they’ll put an emphasis on player interaction on the court through unique camera angles and microphones.
The Lakers will get their first taste of games without fans on July 23, when they’ll face off against the Dallas Mavericks in a friendly scrimmage. Their first official game without fans will be on July 30, when they’ll their intercity rivals, the LA Clippers, for the fourth and final time this season.
The Lakers won their last matchup with the Clippers, but the Clippers might have an advantage this time around — not because their star players will be well-rested, but because they’re used to playing without fans in the stands. Boom, roasted.