Magic Johnson: Basketball players 'know how to adjust' without fans, wants to see if Lakers win title

Magic Johnson joined CNN on Thursday to talk about the sports hiatus amid the COVID-19 shutdown.

Like most sports fans, he’s hoping for “a right time” for play to resume sooner than later.

“I think sports will come back,” Johnson said in a conversation with Anderson Cooper and Sanjay Gupta. “It’s just a matter of when will we make sure that this virus is level and not affecting the whole country anymore.

“When those numbers drop and it stabilizes, I think those sports will come back.”

Magic Johnson: ‘We need sports’

He hopes that MLB can return in May, but recognizes that “players have to be safe” and COVID-19 “numbers have to be stabilized.” With billions of dollars at stake, MLB appears open to any and all ideas to get its games going, including a quarantine season played entirely in Arizona with players separated from their families.

“We need sports,” Johnson said. “Especially in a time like this. But only if everybody is safe.”

Johnson addressed the mostly likely scenario for the return of sports when they eventually do resume — a scenario of games being played without fans. It’s a bizarre concept, but the most sensible one if there’s a time when it can be done safely.

Magic Johnson urged proper COVID-19 public health protocols but is holding out hope for the NBA playoffs. (Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)

Basketball players ‘know how to adjust’

He said it would be an adjustment for NBA players, but one they’d be willing and able to make to complete this season and crown a champion.

“It’s hard to play without fans,” Johnson said. “Once you play one game, you’d adjust to not having fans there. We’ve all played our whole life on the playgrounds and pickup games without fans being there. Basketball players will know how to adjust. Trust me.

“Those guys want to see who’s the world champion. ... I’m looking forward to seeing if the Lakers are gonna win the championship.”

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