Coronavirus: LeBron James will refuse to play if NBA games go behind closed doors

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James says he would refuse to play if the NBA asks teams to play games behind closed doors because of the coronavirus outbreak.

On Friday, ESPN reported the NBA sent a memo to teams asking them to start "developing" contingency plans in the event "it were to become necessary to play a game with only essential staff present", which would mean fans would not be allowed to attend.

The NBA reportedly wants teams to prepare for checking the temperatures of players, staff members, referees and anyone else deemed essential.

All sports leagues in Italy are playing games behind closed doors, while numerous games and events have been cancelled or postponed around Asia due to COVID-19.

When James was asked about the possibility of playing games behind closed doors, he scoffed at the idea. 

"Play games without the fans? No, simple answer," said James after the Lakers' win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

"I ain't playing if we haven't got the fans in the crowd, that's who I play for.

"I play for my team-mates, 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."

COVID-19 has infected more than 105,000 globally and has led to more than 3500 deaths.

Last week Los Angeles County and California - where the Lakers are based -  declared a state of emergency after more coronavirus cases were identified.

The Lakers' 113-103 victory over the Bucks saw them clinch a spot in the NBA playoffs for the first time since 2013.