Zion Williamson, the rookie star of the New Orleans Pelicans, also plans to assist workers at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, pledging on Instagram to pay all arena workers’ salaries for the next 30 days.
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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.
Also on Friday, Ted Leonsis, the managing partner of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Washington Capitals and Washington Wizards, announced the company will pay the roughly 500 part-time employees who were scheduled to work the 16 remaining events through March at Capital One Arena.
According to Leonsis, the Monumental leadership group met Wednesday to discuss potential scenarios, which preceded the decision by the NBA and NHL to suspend their regular season schedules. The topic of compensation for the part-time employees came up early in the meeting, Leonsis said.
“It’s not a monetary thing right now,” Leonsis said. “It’s more a people, employee-first thing.”
As of Friday evening, more than 20 NBA teams had either publicly stated or were reported to have pledged to pay for their arena employees through the postponement. The Golden State Warriors announced Friday that ownership, players and coaches will pledge $1 million for Chase Center employees.
Kevin Love, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ star who has spoken in the past of his issues with mental health, noted “the fear and anxiety” spawned by the coronavirus outbreak in announcing he was donating $100,000 to employees at Cleveland’s Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
“Pandemics are not just a medical phenomenon. They affect individuals and society on so many levels, with stigma and xenophobia being just two aspects of the impact of a pandemic outbreak,” Love wrote Thursday in an Instagram post in which he shared a photo of himself taking a selfie with dozens of workers at the Cavaliers’ arena. “It’s important to know that those with a mental illness may be vulnerable to the effects of widespread panic and threat. Be kind to one another. Be understanding of their fears, regardless if you don’t feel the same. Be safe and make informed decisions during this time.
“And I encourage everyone to take care of themselves and to reach out to others in need — whether that means supporting your local charities that are canceling events, or checking in on your colleagues and family.”
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Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. And the fear and anxiety resulting from the recent outbreak of COVID-19 can be extremely overwhelming. Through the game of basketball, we've been able to address major issues and stand together as a progressive league that cares about the players, the fans, and the communities where we work. I'm concerned about the level of anxiety that everyone is feeling and that is why I'm committing $100,000 through the @KevinLoveFund in support of the @Cavs arena and support staff that had a sudden life shift due to the suspension of the NBA season. I hope that during this time of crisis, others will join me in supporting our communities. Pandemics are not just a medical phenomenon. They affect individuals and society on so many levels, with stigma and xenophobia being just two aspects of the impact of a pandemic outbreak. It's important to know that those with a mental illness may be vulnerable to the effects of widespread panic and threat. Be kind to one another. Be understanding of their fears, regardless if you don't feel the same. Be safe and make informed decisions during this time. And I encourage everyone to take care of themselves and to reach out to others in need -- whether that means supporting your local charities that are canceling events, or checking in on your colleagues and family.
The Cavaliers subsequently said in a statement that they were “developing a compensation plan to continue paying our event staff and hourly workforce that is impacted with the changes to our regular event schedule.”
“My hope is that others will step up!!” Love said to ESPN via text message.
Mark Cuban owns the Mavericks, who play at American Airlines Center in Dallas and were hosting the Denver Nuggets when the NBA decided to suspend its season Wednesday. After cameras caught him in his familiar perch next to the Mavericks’ bench appearing shocked at learning the news, Cuban said in a midgame interview: “This is crazy. This can’t be true. … It seemed more like out of a movie than reality.”
At a postgame news conference, Cuban told reporters that he had actually been discussing the possibility of a halt in action the day before. As part of that process, he said, “I reached out to the folks at the arena and our folks at the Mavs to find out what it would cost to support, financially support, people who aren’t going to be able to come to work.
“They get paid by the hour, and this was their source of income,” Cuban continued. “And so we’ll do some things there. We may ask them to go do some volunteer work in exchange, but we’ve already started the process of having a program in place.
“I don’t have any details to give, but it’s certainly something that’s important to me.”
The NBA has indicated that it hopes to restart its season at some point, or at least stage some form of a postseason, but Commissioner Adam Silver said Thursday that the league would be on hiatus for at least 30 days.
Candace Buckner contributed to this report.