Zion Williamson is stepping up to help the arena staff who will be out of a job during the NBA’s indefinite shutdown.
The New Orleans Pelicans star announced on Friday that he would be paying the salaries of all Smoothie King Center employees for the next 30 days. Williamson wrote in an Instagram post that he wanted to find a way to give back to the city of New Orleans that had welcomed him wholeheartedly since he was picked first overall in the 2019 NBA Draft.
Williamson wrote that he hoped his gesture might help alleviate the stress of the employees who will be out of a job while the NBA has suspended play amid the spread of the coronavirus.
“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,” the former Duke Blue Devils star wrote. “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.”
Williamson is not the first NBA player to offer help for the employees impacted by the league’s suspension. Cleveland Cavaliers big man Kevin Love also announced this week that he would be donating $100,000 to the arena staff who were impacted by the move, noting that he wanted to help ease the stress and anxiety of those out of work.
As CNBC noted, Love has been an advocate for mental health awareness and has been open about his own struggles with anxiety, including suffering a panic attack during a game in 2017.
“Pandemics are not just a medical phenomenon…. It’s important to know that those with a mental illness may be vulnerable to the effects of widespread panic and threat,” Love said in an announcement of his $100,000 pledge.
It’s still not clear yet how long the 2019-20 NBA season could be suspended. ESPN noted that the league will be spending the next two weeks with affected players in quarantine and that the total suspension could last for several weeks longer than that. The report added that the Chinese Basketball Association stopped play in late January as the coronavirus spread rapidly there, and is in the process of preparing for the season to resume in April, marking a layoff of close to 10 weeks.