The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that caused the NBA to completely stop play back in March 2020 is still raging on in the United States. But with cases in California declining, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James is hopeful fans can return to Staples Center soon.
Multiple teams across the league have allowed a limited number of fans to return, such as the Memphis Grizzlies, Utah Jazz and Milwaukee Bucks to name a few, but California teams have remained firm on their guidelines and have not opened doors to fans.
The Lakers, along with the L.A. Clippers, Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors haven’t allowed fans into their stadiums for the entire season. But because conditions are slowly improving across California, James hopes a limited amount of spectators will be permitted inside.
“I’ve been watching a lot of games of late and there’s been 1,500 or 2,000 fans,” James said. “It just gives you an extra boost. I’m just waiting — hopefully sooner rather than later — I would love for us to start having fans here in California, especially here at Staples. It just adds so much for us and also to see our fans too.”
Teams, however, are still being affected by health and safety protocols that have caused players to miss games because of testing and contact tracing, as well as game postponements.
Most recently, the Lakers dealt with missing Dennis Schroder and Marc Gasol because of health and safety protocols. Schroder even criticized the league’s handling of the situation that caused him to miss four games.
As it currently stands, there is no word on when California teams will be able to host fans. Many counties recently moved into the red tier, which means teams that play outdoor sports such as the Los Angeles Dodgers can host fans at a 20% capacity.
That does not apply to the Lakers since they play in doors though, so they will continue to be in wait-and-see mode until they receive permission from the state to host fans.
James motivated by young spectators
Still going strong 18 years into the league, James continues to amaze fans in the longevity of his career. James has accomplished just about everything you can think of in the league: winning the championship, making the All-Star Game, winning MVP and so much more.
However, it’s the youth where James has found motivation this season.
“At the end of the day, there’s some kids out there still watching me,” James said. “They’re watching the way I play the game of basketball, they’re reading the narrative of will I be tired? Am I satisfied? And things of that nature. I don’t want to give them an excuse, no matter the circumstances.
“You still go out there and play as hard as you can, give your life to the game because the game will give it back to you. I understand I have a responsibility that’s beyond myself when I hit the floor.”
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