Zion Williamson, Giannis Antetokounmpo donate to arena staff in the wake of NBA hiatus
In this file photo, New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson goes to the basket between Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) and center Brook Lopez (11) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Two basketball stars have pledged to give money to support the staff at their home court arenas in the wake of a coronavirus-spurred NBA hiatus.
New Orleans Pelicans’ star Zion Williamson announced Friday that he would cover the salaries of workers at Smoothie King Center for the next 30 days.
“The people of New Orleans have been incredibly welcoming and supportive since I was Drafted by the Pels last June,” Williamson wrote on Instagram. “Some of the most special people I have met are those who work at smoothie King Center.”
“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.”
In light of this, he pledged to cover the workers’ salaries for the next 30 days, saying he was following his mother’s example of being respectful to others and grateful for his own good fortune.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, of the Milwaukee Bucks, also pledged US$100,000 to the staff at Fiserv Forum, tweeting, “It’s bigger than basketball!
“During this tough time I want to help the people that make my life, my family’s lives and my teammates lives easier,” he wrote.
The NBA suspended the 2020 season on Wednesday after Rudy Gobert, a Utah Jazz player, tested positive for COVID-19. A second Jazz player, Donovan Mitchell, announced on Thursday that he had also tested positive.
Smoothie King Center and Fiserv Forum are both multi-purpose arenas that serve as home to the Pelicans and the Bucks respectively.
Williamson, who rose to prominence playing college ball with Duke, was the Number 1 pick during the draft in June. In his Instagram post, he called the city of New Orleans “resilient.”
“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,” he wrote.
“Sometimes providing a little extra assistance can make things a little easier for the community.”