Lakers Say No Fans at Games in 2021 amid Pandemic as NBA Moves Beyond Quarantine Bubble Format
Sorry to burst your bubble, Lakers fans.
The Los Angeles NBA team announced Wednesday that, when the upcoming season starts in December, they won't be allowing in-person attendance at the Staples Center.
Following a successful time inside the so-called "bubble" quarantine format for the Finals over the summer, the decision marks a shift to a different, socially distanced protocol amid the ongoing pandemic.
In a statement, the Lakers said there will be no fans for the 2020-2021 season "until further notice."
"The health and safety of our fans, players, staff and community are our main priority and we will continue to work with state and local officials to come up with a plan to safely welcome fans back to Staples Center in adherence with local, State, and NBA guidelines," read the statement.
After winning the NBA Finals in early October, the Lakers added that they will wait to install their victory banner until fans can be in attendance.
"We appreciate your continued support and look forward to coming together, when it is safe to do so, to celebrate the raising of our banner and the quest for another NBA championship," the team said.
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Of the more than 340 players tested for the coronavirus in the NBA bubble at the Walt Disney World resort in Florida, zero returned positive tests. Lakers star LeBron James hailed the health protocols last month.
"We had zero positive tests. We had zero positive tests for as long as we were here, 90-some days, 95 days maybe for myself. I had a little calendar I was checking off. But on a serious note, no positive tests. That’s a success for everybody that was involved," he told reporters, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Last week, the National Basketball Players Association announced that it had "tentatively approved" a start date of Dec. 22 for the upcoming season. Although "additional details remain to be negotiated" for the proposed 72-game season — which is shorter than the typical 82 games — the NBPA added that they are "confident" about being able to reach an "agreement on these remaining issues."
Yet-to-be agreed-upon issues include financial matters as well as health and safety measures, the Associated Press reported.
Teams will reportedly begin training camp on Dec. 1, according to CBS Sports. The schedule will also get the league back on track for a more typical schedule that is set to end before the Tokyo Olympics, which are currently scheduled to begin in July 2021.
Shams Charania, a sports reporter for The Athletic and Stadium, reported that the NBA issued guidelines to all teams on Wednesday, outlining rules for spectators to attend games in parts of the country where that would be permitted.
According to the report, anyone within 30 feet of the court will have to have tested negative for COVID, and everyone inside the arena will be required to wear masks. Charania added that social distancing and capacity limitations will also be put in place.
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