With the NBA suspending the rest of the 2019-2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic, the biggest thoughts on many minds is what will happen to those who work at the arenas and stadiums. While those who play and perform are guaranteed money, many of the workers who clean arenas, work concessions, sell tickets, and any number of jobs that pay a regular wage are at a loss.
Luckily some have already spoken out and pledged to support the staff at these arenas, with Dallas Mavericks owner leading that charge almost immediately after the association put games on hold. The latest to fall behind him is NBA rookie superstar Zion Williamson, writing a heartfelt post on Instagram pledging to pay for all the workers at Smoothie King Center 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," Williamson opened his post. "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."
Williamson continued his post with hopes that others would join him in donating and ensuring a shred of normalcy in the face of this health fight.
"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," Williamson continued. "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."
Aside from Williamson and Cuban, Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo pledged $100,000 for relief to employees affected by the suspension, with the team matching his contribution. Other NBA stars have made similar pledges according to the New York Times, including Kevin Love and Blake Griffin.
For some, this type of offer can be tricky due to the realities of payroll taxes. Cuban highlighted this in a phone interview with the Times.
"There’s issues of payroll taxes. Do you pay the payroll taxes if they don’t work?" Cuban told the outlet. "There’s issues of, ‘What happens if the games are actually played in the future? Do we pay them twice?’ I personally don’t care. That’s fine."0comments
Other owners and arenas have also made pledges to either pay workers or ensure they are paid for their lost time in the future.
For now, the NBA is suspended for at least 30 days due to the coronavirus spread, It was the first sport to make a decision on the situation, leading to the NHL, MLB, and NASCAR following in their steps.