Lakers wait on the NBA to decide protocol of games amid coronavirus outbreak

LeBron James makes a pass as he drives down the lane against the Nets during the second quarter March 10 at Staples Center.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

The 2019-20 season for the Lakers has been full of twists and turns, with the coronavirus being the latest they have had to endure.

They navigated their way through a global crisis when the Lakers and Brooklyn Nets almost saw two exhibition games canceled in China when its government became upset at a tweet by Houston’s general manager Daryl Morey in which he posted, “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong,” in support of pro-democracy protesters.

The Lakers were stung by the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others when their helicopter crashed on Jan. 26 into a hillside in Calabasas.

Now the Lakers and the NBA are trying to deal with the coronavirus and how it might affect the rest of the season.


“When I took the job, my whole purpose was to get our team to stay in the moment and focus on the task at hand and try to block out outside noise,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “At the time it was a lot of noise about dysfunction within our organization that I was referring to. But we’ve encountered a lot of different circumstances, unusual circumstances throughout the year where that message has applied and we just got to focus on the task at hand and stay in the moment.”

The Lakers lost to the Nets on Tuesday night before an announced crowd of 18,997 fans at Staples Center.

While the NBA discusses a number of scenarios on how to deal with the coronavirus outbreak and how to keep players, executives and fans safe, players have been asked what it might be like if the league decides to play games without fans in attendance.


“I’ve never played a basketball game where no one has been in the stands, like literally no one has been in the stands,” LeBron James said after he scored 29 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and handed out nine assists in the Lakers’ 104-102 loss to the Nets. “So, it would be something that would be very challenging. But we’ll see what happens, we’ll see what happens with the protocol and everything that goes on with that going forward and just take it from there.”

Lakers guard Danny Green said they “keep getting updated” day by day and that some of those updates “seem more serious than others.”

Either way, Green said the Lakers will do whatever is asked of them during this crisis.


“We don’t really know. We’re just going with what they give us,” Green said. “I don’t know. One day it’s really serious, one day they say it’s not. Then there are precautions and we might be playing games without fans. We might be doing this. We don’t know.

“We’re just taking the necessary precautions we need to for our sake and for our families and the fans, if that’s what it comes down to. We’d rather not play that way. But if we have to take precautions for the safety of everyone else, so be it.”