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How the NBA is taking care of hourly employees during the coronavirus league shutdown

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The millionaires and billionaires will be fine, but the hourly employees have serious problems.

NBA: Golden State Warriors-Chase Center Tour Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

In the aftermath of the NBA suspending its season due to the coronavirus pandemic, NBA players and team owners are working to help hourly stadium employees who depend on games to make a living.

Zion Williamson became the latest player to join the club when he announced he would cover the salaries of all Pelicans arena workers for the next month:

Here’s Williamson’s full statement:

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.

It began with Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who gave an impromptu court-side interview when news broke Wednesday night that the league was suspending the season. He discussed the virus’s threat to the country as a whole, adding that the Mavericks would put a plan in place to help stadium employees. Cuban reiterated his statement in a press conference, saying he’s working to find out what it would take financially to support employees during the suspension.

Cuban expanded on the plan Thursday morning.

Early Thursday morning, Cody Zeller of the Charlotte Hornets was asked a similar question on Twitter. While he’s confident the league will make sure hourly employees are taken care of, Zeller said he will pay employees out of his pocket if there is no firm plan in place.

Cleveland Cavaliers star Kevin Love also said in an Instagram post that he would donate $100K to the support of Cavaliers arena workers and and staff who suddenly had to stop working as the season was suspended:

The Cavs also stepped up in response:

Reigning MVP Giannis Anteokounmpo also pledged $100K to take of arena staff in Milwaukee:

We’re not sure why the Bucks had to wait for Giannis to do something, but at least this is better than nothing (they should still do more):

The Blazers are also reportedly coming up with a plan:

Warriors GM Bob Myers started a storm of fans on social media asking him to pay hourly employees following a statement that appreciated the plight of these employees, but didn’t outline a plan to pay them.

This is the human side of the coronavirus pandemic, and it’s heartening to see owners and players alike thinking of everyone affected by the suspension and not just those who play the game.