NBA players cover lost wages of arena workers after coronavirus suspends season

(NEW YORK) — As health officials race to contain the spread of the coronavirus, NBA players from across the country are opening their wallets to assist stadium workers now forced to stay home.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced on March 11 the league would suspend all games for at least 30 days, leaving arena employees without work.

Kevin Love, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Zion Williamson are just a few of the many players who have publicly pledged to donate thousands of dollars to workers after the unexpected hiatus.

“I’m concerned about the level of anxiety that everyone is feeling and that is why I’m committing $100,000,” Love wrote on Instagram.

Love, a power forward for the Cleveland Cavaliers, was one of the first players to take action after the shocking suspension of the league. He mentioned that he was hopeful others would unite in supporting their communities.

“Be kind to one another,” Love wrote. “I encourage everyone to take care of themselves and to reach out to others in need.”

A chain reaction began and other players from teams across the country joined in.

“It’s bigger than basketball,” Antetokounmpo, a forward for the Milwaukee Bucks and reigning NBA MVP, wrote on Twitter, noting his plans to donate $100,000 dollars to the staff at the Fiserv Forum arena.

The list goes on.

Zion Williamson, a forward for the New Orleans Pelicans and the No. 1 draft pick in 2019, said his donation was a way to express his support and appreciation for those who have helped him since he began his career in the city.

“My mother has always set an example for me about being respectful for others and being grateful for what we have,” Williamson wrote on Instagram. “So today I am pledging to cover the salaries for all of those Smoothie King Center workers for the next 30 days.”

Even the Utah Jazz’s Rudy Gobert, who became the first NBA player to test positive for the coronavirus, is donating $500,000 to part-time workers at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, with a portion of the money also going to families impacted by the disease.

“I know there are countless ways that people have been impacted,” Gobert said. “These donations are a small token that reflect my appreciation and support for all those impacted and are the first of many steps I will take to try and make a positive difference, while continuing to learn more about COVID-19 and educate others.”

At least seven NBA players have tested positive for coronavirus, including Gobert, Jazz teammate Donovan Mitchell, Detroit Pistons center Christian Wood and four members of the Brooklyn Nets. The team did not name who was diagnosed, but star Kevin Durant told The Athletic he was one of them.

Numerous teams, such as the Dallas Mavericks, Philadelphia 76ers and Golden State Warriors, have also stepped up to help the arena staff in their cities. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was one of the first to say he would be helping out workers at the team’s arena.

The donations will have a tremendous effect on many employees who are uncertain of their future in the face of COVID-19.

For Crystal Howell, who works in the ticketing office at Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum arena, it has meant the world.

“I’m in a two-income family, but due to what’s going on in the world, we’re both out of work,” Howell said. “What Giannis and all the players have done really means a lot. They didn’t have to do it and it’s going to help me and my family.”
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