With the 2020-21 NBA season tipping off in a matter of weeks, the Los Angeles Lakers have announced the team will play home games without fans in attendance at Staples Center until further notice.
L.A. made the decision taking into consideration the advice from local and state health officials. However, the organization did not rule out the possibility of allowing fans inside Staples Center at some point during the season.
“The health and safety of our fans, players, staff, and community are our main priority,” the Lakers said in a statement. “[We] will continue to work with state and local officials to come up with a plan to safely welcome fans back to Staples Center in adherence with local, state, and NBA guidelines.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in September he hoped to have some fans in attendance during the 2020-21 campaign. And recent rumors claimed the NBA was targeting fan capacity of up to 50% in home arena suites at the start of the next season.
Such a possibility, however, was contingent on safety guidelines in each market.
Meanwhile, the Lakers are yet to celebrate their 17th NBA championship with fans as a celebratory parade could not be organized last month due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. However, franchise owner Jeanie Buss reassured the faithful a parade would take place at some point in the future.
And the Lakers reiterated that desire in their latest statement, saying they “look forward to coming together, when it is safe to do so, to celebrate the raising of our banner and the quest for another NBA championship.” Mayor Eric Garcetti recently suggested Griffith Park as the venue for potential celebrations, although there were no imminent plans for organizing the event.
NBA headed for hectic schedule prior to 2020-21 tipoff
The NBA and the players have agreed on a Dec. 22 start date for the 2020-21 season, avoiding reported revenue losses of up to $1 billion.
But the pre-Christmas tipoff means games will return only eight weeks after the Lakers won the 2020 NBA Finals in the Orlando bubble. Teams are now braced for organizational headache ahead of the new campaign’s start date with the NBA Draft scheduled for Nov. 18 and free agency beginning two days later.
The 2020-21 NBA schedule is yet to be announced.
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