NBA Stars are Covering Wages of Arena Workers During League's Coronavirus Shutdown
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The people of New Orleans have been incredibly welcoming and supportive since I was Drafted by the Pels last June, and some of the most special people I have met are those who work at smoothie King Center. These are the folks who make our games possible, creating the perfect environment for our fans and everyone involved in the organization. Unfortunately, many of them are still recovering from long term challenges created by Katrina, and now face the economic impact of the postponement of games because of the virus. My mother has always set an example for me about being respectful for others and being grateful for what we have, and so today I am pledging to cover the salaries for all of those Smoothie King Center workers for the next 30 days. This is a small way for me to express my support and appreciation for these wonderful people who have been so great to me and my teammates and hopefully we can all join together to relieve some of the stress and hardship caused by this national health crisis. This is an incredibly resilient city full of some of the most resilient people, but sometimes providing a little extra assistance can make things a little easier for the community.
UPDATE: Over the last 24 hours, almost two dozen NBA organizations have reportedly begun to work on compensation packages for arena staff affected by the league’s month-long shutdown. You the full list of teams pledging to support workers (or match player donations) here.
“This is a small way for me to express my support and appreciation for these wonderful people who have been so great to me and my teammates.”
As the NBA‘s season comes to an abrupt halt in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, the league’s stars are stepping in to help cover the lost wages of arena staff affected by the shutdown.
So far, Zion Williamson, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, have all chipped in to provide their respective crews with assistance. Williamson, the 19-year-old rookie forward, has pledged to support New Orleans’ Smoothie King Arena for the month-long hiatus, while Antetokounmpo has put up $100,000 for workers at Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum. Griffin and Love have made similar commitments to arena staff in Cleveland and Detroit.
In an Instagram post (read it in full above,) Williamson thanked his supporting staff, acknowledged how members of the crew were still feeling the weight of ongoing Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts, and offered a few words of inspiration. “This is an incredibly resilient city full of some of the most resilient people, but sometimes providing a little extra assistance can make things a little easier for the community,” Williamson wrote.
The assistance of players has been well received across the league and amongst fans, but sparked a debate over why team owners weren’t at least matching their efforts. Of the 30 teams, only the Dallas Mavericks are reportedly working on compensating event staff for the six home games scheduled during the league’s suspension, according to ESPN.