Lakers' LeBron James Says Playing Without Fans Still 'A Very Weird Dynamic'

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistAugust 9, 2020

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James controls the ball during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers, Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)
Kim Klement/Associated Press

Some NBA players have acclimated immediately to the Orlando bubble, quickly adjusting to life without fans of the non-virtual variety.

For LeBron James, it's still taking some time.

"I am getting more and more used to being out there. It's a very weird dynamic. I haven't played in an empty gym in a very, very long time," James told reporters Saturday after the Lakers' 116-111 loss to the Indiana Pacers. "It's been a very long time since no one has been watching me play the game. I'm just trying to find that rhythm and lock in."

James' discomfort is understandable. He's been one of the most famous athletes on the planet since he was 15. His high school, St. Vincent-St. Mary, moved its games to colleges to accommodate the overwhelming demand to see him play. Since the moment LeBron arrived in the NBA, his teams have been at or near the top of the attendance list, and road fans flock to arenas to see him play.

"I don't think I played in an empty gym for a game that really counted," James said. "I definitely love playing in front of the fans. The fans are what make the game. Without the fans, I wouldn't be who I am today. To all the fans out there that come watch me play, I miss you guys and hopefully someday I can get back to that interaction."

Perhaps owing to their superstar's discomfort, the Lakers have lacked urgency since the Orlando restart. Their loss to Indiana was their third straight, and they're just 2-4 overall in seeding games. LeBron is averaging 4.1 fewer points and 4.2 fewer assists per game in seeding games than the regular season.