NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson pledged on Friday to provide financial assistance to workers at stadiums who will suffer wage losses during the coronavirus pandemic.
Antetokounmpo announced he would give $100,000 for workers at the Milwaukee Bucks' FiServ Forum and Williamson has promised to cover the salaries of all employees at the Smoothie King Center for the next month.
The hourly wage workers will take a big hit from the shut-down of the NBA and other sports leagues, along with cancellations of concerts as public health officials caution that large gatherings can hasten the spread of COVID-19.
“It's bigger than basketball!” Antetokounmpo tweeted. “And during this tough time I want to help the people that make my life, my family's lives and my teammates lives easier.
“Me and my family pledge to donate $100,000 to the Fiserv Forum staff. We can get through this together!”
The 19-year-old Williamson's salary pledge coincides with the NBA's planned hiatus in response to the outbreak.
“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,” Williamson said.
“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.”
Friday's moves come a day after Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love committed $100,000 to the team's arena workers and support staff.
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“I hope that during this time of crisis, others will join me in supporting our communities,” Love said, adding that moral support was just as important as financial in such a time of tension.
Detroit Pistons Blake Griffin is chipping in with $100,000 for Little Caesars Arena workers and Charlotte Hornets center Cody Zeller has vowed to help out.
Mark Cuban, billionarie owner of the Dallas Mavericks said the team had already come up with plans to compensate hourly employees “as if they worked” for the first four “would-have-been” Mavs games.
Atlanta Hawks owner Tony Ressler and the Philadelphia 76ers also said they were looking into ways to assist their arena associates idled by the shut down.