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NBA players are donating money to cover salaries of arena workers amid the COVID-19 shutdown

NBA players are donating money to cover salaries of arena workers amid the COVID-19 shutdown

NBA star Kevin Love who plays for the Cleveland Cavalierspledged US$100,000 Thursday to aid arena workers displaced by the league's response to the coronavirus. (Photo: Kevin Love Instagram)

As the bright lights of professional sports go dark across the United States this week, some top names from the NBA were pitching in to ease the burden for arena and stadium staff facing the grim possibility of weeks without pay in the coronavirus shutdown.

The basketball league announced Wednesday (Mar 11) that it was indefinitely suspending its season in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, upending daily life for thousands of concession employees, ushers and custodians who rely on games for a pay-check.

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love announced he was donating US$100,000 (S$142,000) to his team’s arena support staff and called on others to make similar gestures.

“I’m concerned about the level of anxiety that everyone is feeling,” Love wrote in an Instagram post.

Pistons forward Blake Griffin followed up, writing on Twitter that he was “just following suit.” He did not elaborate but media outlets reported that he would donate US$100,000 to staff at Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena.

New Orleans Pelicans star rookie Zion Williamson said on Instagram that he would cover salaries for all workers at the Smoothie King Center for 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,” Williamson wrote.

Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo, one of the top scorers in the league, said on Friday that he and his family planned to donate US$100,000 to staff members at the Fiserv Forum.

“It’s bigger than basketball!” Antetokounmpo wrote on Twitter. “I want to help the people that make my life, my family’s lives and my team-mates lives easier.”

The Golden State Warriors announced Friday (Mar 13)  that the franchise's owners, players and coaches will contribute US$1 million to disaster relief fund for Chase Center employees.

"The men and women who work our games at Chase Center are critical in providing an incredible game-night experience for our fans, including of course, the popcorn vendors," said Warriors guard Stephen Curry. "As players, we wanted to do something, along with our ownership and coaches, to help ease the pain during this time."

Curry is a well-known popcorn fanatic.

Team owners have begun their own gestures as well.

The Cleveland Cavaliers said on Twitter that they would pay hourly and event staff members at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, while Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told ESPN that he would make sure hourly workers would be compensated.

Alibaba co-founder and Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai wrote on Twitter that he was also working on a plan regarding non-salaried employees.

(Reporting by Amy Tennery; additional reporting by Rory Carroll and Gene Cherry; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)