With the outbreak of the coronavirus, the New Orleans Smoothie King Center is now closed to NBA games prompting Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson to make a profound offering to cover the salaries of the arena’s workers for the next 30 days.
The announcement was delivered in a post on his Instagram account where Williamson attributed his effort to the relationship built in New Orleans as he arrived for his rookie year.
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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.
In response, the New Orleans Pelicans shared a response on Twitter:
“The Pelicans say thank you and applaud Zion and his family for his generous giving to the employees of ASM New Orleans and the Smoothie King Center during this very unfortunate and troubling time.”
Statement from the New Orleans Pelicans: pic.twitter.com/BIE9IdGX97
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) March 13, 2020
Stars and team owners across the league are also assisting arena workers. Current NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is pledging $100,000 to the staff of Milwaukee Fiserv’s Forum, ESPN reports.
“It’s bigger than basketball! And during this tough time I want to help the people that make my life, my family’s lives and my teammate’s lives easier,” Antetokounmpo tweeted.
It’s bigger than basketball! 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! 🙏🏽
— Giannis Antetokounmpo (@Giannis_An34) March 13, 2020
The first player’s pledge came from Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love who would donate $100,000 to support Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse staff in Cleveland. Blake Griffin of the Detroit Pistons also will pledge $100,000 toward workers of Little Caesars Arena.
As the NBA shut down on Wednesday, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban detailed during a live interview his efforts to support American Airlines Arena staff. The team would release a statement Friday confirming they will “ensure that scheduled event staff will receive payment for the six home games that were to take place during the 30-day NBA hiatus.”