LeBron James said there is no excitement or joy without fans as the Los Angeles Lakers superstar discussed the challenges facing the NBA amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The NBA, like many sports around the world, has been postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis, which has killed almost 24,000 people globally.
It remains to be seen when and if the 2019-20 season will resume, with commissioner Adam Silver unwilling to provide a return date for the league.
If the campaign relaunches, the prospect of games behind closed doors is likely, something three-time NBA champion James is not looking forward to.
"What is the word 'sport' without 'fan'?" James said on the Road Trippin' Podcast. "There's no excitement. There's no crying. There's no joy. There's no back-and-forth.
"That's what also brings out the competitive side of the players, to know that you're going on the road in a hostile environment and yes, you're playing against that opponent in front of you, but you really want to kick the fans' ass too.
"So to get back on the floor, I would love it. I'm not going to sit here and say nothing. Like, if it's get out there and get back on the floor five-on-five ... but like, we can do that in scrimmages.
"Let's just go to each other's practice facility, put out a camera, just scrimmage and livestream it. ... I just don't know how we can imagine a sporting event without fans. It's just, it's a weird dynamic."
There has been talk of the NBA heading straight into the playoffs if the season resumes but James, whose Lakers were top of the Western Conference with a 49-14 record prior to the postponement, said: "One thing you can't just do is go straight to the playoffs. Because it discredits the 60-plus games that guys had fighting for that position."
After a difficult first season in Los Angeles, James had returned to his brilliant best for the Lakers – the 35-year-old's performances catapulting him into the mix for a fifth MVP award.
At the time of the NBA suspending the league on March 11, James had been averaging 25.7 points, 10.6 assists and 7.9 rebounds per game.
As such, he is disappointed to lose the rhythm of impressive form he felt was building nicely towards the postseason.
James added: "When you've been building six months of conditioning and preparation and then [it's gone], the narrative that I don't like [is], 'Well, now guys get so much rest' or, like, 'LeBron, he's 35, he's got so many minutes on his body, now he gets so much rest'.
"It's actually the opposite for me because my body, when we stopped playing, was asking me, like, 'What the hell are you doing?'
"My body was like, 'Hey man, what the hell is going on? It's March 13th, you're getting ready for the playoffs, why are you shutting down right now?' And I was right there turning the corner, like, I felt like I was rounding third base, getting ready for the postseason. So the rest factor, I think it's a little bit [overblown]. Especially when you're in the full swing of things."