Report: NBA to discuss next steps over coronavirus fears

Less than a week after telling teams to begin developing plans to play games with no fans or media in attendance, the NBA will hold a conference call with teams Wednesday to discuss next steps to take with the growing coronavirus outbreak, ESPN reported Monday.

According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, the NBA will talk with team owners and governors Wednesday afternoon. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski added that, “concerns are escalating among owners and executives that more drastic steps could be coming for the league, including games played with only essential personnel in arenas; the precise scenario that the NBA has required teams be prepared to execute.”

On Friday, the NBA reportedly sent a memo to teams telling them to begin “developing” plans in case “it were to become necessary to play a game with only essential staff present.” According to the reports, that would mean fans and media members would not be among those allowed at the games.

According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the NBA also sent teams a reminder of the league’s existing rules governing postponements and cancellations of games.

Earlier last week, the NBA advised players to limit contact with fans out of concern over the outbreak, recommending players use fist bumps instead of high-fives with fans and avoid handling anything passed to them by fans, such as pens and jerseys.

When asked Friday about the possibility of playing games in arenas with no fans in attendance, Lakers star LeBron James told reporters, “I ain’t playing if I ain’t got the fans in the crowd. That’s who I play for. I play for my teammates. I play for the fans. That’s what it’s all about. If I show up to an arena and there are no fans in there, I ain’t playing. They can do what they want to do.”

As sporting events throughout Europe and Asia are impacted and altered by the coronavirus outbreak, the United States is increasingly having to deal with it as well.

Sunday night, organizers of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif. — one of the most popular stops on the ATP and WTA tours — announced this year’s two-week event has been canceled. It was scheduled to begin next week.

–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)