LeBron James On Playing Without Fans: ‘No Excitement, Crying Or Joy’

During a podcast that came out on Thursday, LeBron James spoke at length publicly for the first time since the coronavirus shut down nearly all sports worldwide.

As would make perfect sense given the current biggest challenge facing the league, James talked about, you guessed it, the virus that has the NBA season currently postponed.

His comments came on the latest episode of the Road Trippin’ podcast, hosted by two ex-Cavs teammates, Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye, as well as the Lakers’ current studio host, Allie Clifton.

First, James talked about the possibility of the virus being passed amongst the players once the NBA resumes.

“So what happens when a guy who is tested positive for corona and you’re out there on the floor with him and it’s a loose ball?” James asked, as transcribed by ESPN. He also said his days of dapping up teammates are over. “I ain’t high-fiving nobody for the rest of my life after this shit. No more high-fiving,” James said. “After this corona shit? Wait until y’all see me and my teammates’ handshakes after this shit.”

The NBA’s hiatus has stretched on for more than two weeks now, and James (once again) talked about the very real possibility of playing games without fans.

“What is the word ‘sport’ without ‘fan’?” he said, before elaborating on his question. “There’s no excitement. There’s no crying. There’s no joy. There’s no back-and-forth. There’s no rhyme or reason that you want to go on the road and just dethrone the home team because of their fans and vice versa.”

James also explained how playing in front of fans acts as motivation for NBA stars. “Like, 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,” he explained.

“So, to get back on the floor, I would love it. I’m not going to sit here and say nothing,” James added. “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 live stream it. But until the fans can come back … I just don’t know how we can imagine a sporting event without fans. It’s just, it’s a weird dynamic.”

James also aired his objection to the crazy scenario that NBA players would be quarantined in some sort of league-approved hotel through the duration of the postseason/Finals.

“I ain’t going for that shit,” he said. “I’m not going for that.”

He also dumped on any idea that the league would just jump immediately into the postseason following this extended hibernation.

“One thing you can’t just do is go straight to the playoffs,” James said. “Because it discredits the 60-plus games that guys had fighting for that position.”

James revealed that he’d be ramping up his training starting Monday. Those workouts will go down alongside his longtime trainer Mike Mancias. Over the previous weeks he’d been working out once in the morning, and occasionally at night.

He also called theories that veterans (like himself) could benefit from this extended rest incorrect and “overblown.”

“When you’ve been building six months of conditioning and preparation and then (it’s gone), the narrative that I don’t like (is), ‘Well, now guys get so much rest.’ Or, like, ‘LeBron, he’s 35, he’s got so many minutes on his body, now he gets so much rest,'” James said. “It’s actually the opposite for me because my body, when we stopped playing, was asking me, like, ‘What the hell are you doing?'”

He added that his body was like, “‘Hey man, what the hell is going on? It’s March 13th, you’re getting ready for the playoffs, why are you shutting down right now?’ And I was right there turning the corner, like, I felt like I was rounding third base, getting ready for the postseason.”

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