‘I ain’t playing’: LeBron’s defiant pledge

Los Angeles Lakers stars LeBron James has defiantly claimed he won’t take the court without spectators after the NBA cautioned of potential measures to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

The NBA reportedly told teams to look into strategies on how to play games without fans in the arena amid concerns over the new coronavirus outbreak.

As fears grow over the spread of the virus, and sports leagues formulate contingency plans, the NBA on Friday sent a memo to its teams telling them to start “developing” plans on how to play games with only “essential staff” in attendance should that be deemed necessary, American sports broadcaster ESPN reported.

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“The health and safety of our employees, teams, players and fans is paramount,” the NBA said in a statement on Monday.

“We are co-ordinating with our teams and consulting with the CDC and infectious disease specialists on the coronavirus and continue to monitor the situation closely.”

LeBron James wants the NBA to keep their doors open despite the threat of coronavirusSource:AFP

However, after a stellar performance against the Milwaukee Bucks in Los Angeles, James told reporters it would be “impossible” for him to compete without fans in the stands.

“No. It’s impossible. I ain’t playing,” James said.

“If we ain’t got fans in the crowd that’s who I play for. That’s what it’s all about.

“If I show up to the arena and there ain’t no fans in there, I ain’t playing.”

LeBron James doesn’t want Coronavirus to shut NBA arena doors to fans

“I ain’t playing, if I ain’t got the fans in the crowd, that’s who I play for.” pic.twitter.com/2fzR5qM2gi

The global spread of COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the international sporting calendar with Formula One motor racing, golf and athletics among the sports cancelling or postponing events.

In Italy, the hardest-hit European country with 148 deaths from the novel coronavirus, all major sports events, including football matches, will be played behind closed doors until April 3rd.

‘MVP’ LEBRON LEADS LAKERS TO 7-YEAR FIRST

For the first time since 2013, the Los Angeles Lakers have qualified for the NBA playoffs after defeating competition favourites Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday.

LeBron James managed 37 points, eight rebounds and seven assists to win his showdown with fellow All-Star Game captain Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Lakers victorious 113-103.

The Lakers were carried to their tenth win in 11 games overall largely by a superb performance from James, who scored 14 points in the third quarter and then kept LA ahead down the stretch.

James capped his night with a one-handed spinning dunk with 27 seconds left, sparking the last of many “MVP!” chants for him at Staples Center. He also passed 34,000 career points during the fixture.

LeBron James and Giannis AntetokounmpoSource:AFP

Since the All-Star break, James has averaged 30.4 points, 9.4 assists and 7.7 rebounds per game. The Lakers remain undefeated when the 35-year-old scores 30 points.

Lakers coach Frank Vogel praised his star player after the match.

“Most impressive part of LeBron’s night was his defence on Giannis,” Vogel said.

“When our defence is set, we’re really good.”

Teammate Kyle Kuzma also touted James as the competition’s MVP.

“He’s the MVP. He shows it every night, every day he comes in,” Kuzma said.

“38 points, guarding Giannis for the majority of the game. He did a great job and was the key to really slowing him down.”

Although Antetokounmpo is arguably still favourite to win his second consecutive NBA Most Valuable Player, James showed on Saturday why he deserves a fifth.

Lebron James performance as a 35 year old is one of the more remarkable things I've ever seen. It's almost unbelievable. #Lakers

Antetokounmpo had 32 points and 12 rebounds for the Bucks, who have lost two of three games for the first time since October.

When the Lakers last qualified for the NBA playoffs seven years ago, the starting line up included Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard.

The Lakers will next face the Clippers in a Los Angeles derby on Monday.

SHOCK STAT PROVES CLIPPERS’ POTENTIAL

The Los Angeles Clippers have experienced some poor luck with injuries this season, star forward Paul George hurting himself ahead of the All-Star weekend.

Currently second on the Western Conference ladder, the Clippers are only behind rivals the Lakers, boasting the strongest home record in their Conference with 25-6.

However, a revealing statistic indicates why the Clippers have a chance at claiming their maiden NBA title.

When at full strength, the Clippers are undefeated in the 2019/20 season, including victories over the Lakers, 76ers and Rockets.

The Clippers are 10-0 when fully healthy this season.

Those wins were against: Lakers, Nuggets, Rockets, Heat, 76ers, OKC, Grizzlies, Spurs, Suns, Wolves. pic.twitter.com/ti4znslhnp

The Clippers have won six consecutive matches, their most recent a 120-105 away victory over the Rockets on Friday. They will next face the Lakers on Monday.

DALLAS OWNER’S $753K FINE
The NBA has fined Dallas owner Mark Cuban AU$753,000 on Friday for “public criticism and detrimental conduct” regarding officiating. Separately, the league sent a memo to teams reminding them of rules that govern conduct of owners, coaches and other team personnel during games.

The memo, obtained by The Associated Press, laid out parameters for proper conduct by team personnel toward game officials, how team personnel other than coaches are not allowed on the court during games and how they cannot use “profane or objectionable language that might be heard by spectators” during the game.

Although the memo about the rules of conduct for team personnel does not mention Cuban specifically, he typically sits near the Mavericks’ bench during games.

This is Mark Cuban’s third fine greater than $US500,000Source:AFP

The 61-year-old also said he would match the fine with a donation that would include funding the heart transplant of a local man.

Cuban’s $500,000 fine raised the total NBA has fined him over the years to at least $4.6 million, and the Mavericks’ owner has said in the past that he always donates the equivalent of the fine amount to charity simultaneously.

This was the third time a fine of at least $753,000 against Cuban was announced by the league.

With wires

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