Coronavirus: NBA stars, owners step up to aide laid-off arena workers

MGN (l-r) Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Zion Williamson

On Wednesday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced that the league would suspend its season after two NBA players tested positive for the coronavirus. On Thursday, he stated that the hiatus will last for at least 30 games.

In response to the suspension, a few owners and NBA star players have stepped up to offer at least $100K to help pay the lost wages of stadium workers as a result of the NBA shut down.

Atlanta Hawks owner Tony Ressler said he had already been planning on taking care of its stadium employees before the shutdown took place. “We have a pretty clear set of priorities in this kind of remarkable time that we’re living through,” Ressler said.

“Protecting our fans, protecting our employees, and protecting the reputation of our league—all of which is important—but let there be no confusion, that means taking care of all of our employees, our full-time, our part-time.”

After Brooklyn Nets player Spencer Dinwiddie tweeted a suggestion that the Nets take care of non-salaried arena staff, team owner Joe Tsai responded via Twitter that the Nets are working on a plan for those workers.

Zion Williamson took to Instagram to offer to cover the salaries for workers of the Smoothie King Center, the New Orlean Pelicans home arena.

Elsewhere, Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks recently said on Twitter that he also would donate $100K to help the laid-off staff who run the Fiserv Forum where the Bucks play home games.

Antetokounmpo tweeted:

The Detroit News reported on Friday that Blake Griffin offered $100K to help workers at the Pistons’ Little Caesars Arena.

Likewise, Kevin Love has offered $100K through his foundation to help those who would have been working games at the Rocket Mortgage Arena in Cleveland where the Cavaliers play home games.

Love’s post on Instagram:

View this post on Instagram

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.

A post shared by Kevin Love (@kevinlove) on

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said unprompted in an interview on Wednesday night: “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,” Cuban continued, “and this was their source of income. 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.”