Rudy Gobert was the first NBA player to test positive for coronavirus, and now the Utah Jazz center is giving back to others affected by the virus.
The Jazz announced on Saturday that Gobert was donating $500,000 to a relief fund for employees at the Vivint Smart Home Arena and toward social services for coronavirus victims in Utah, Oklahoma City, and the French health care system. As ESPN reported, it was Gobert whose diagnosis led the NBA to suspend its season this week, with the All-Star testing positive for the virus shortly before tip-off of his team’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
In his announcement on Saturday, Gobert said that he was appreciative of what health care officials were doing to respond to the virus and assist victims, and wanted to give back to those dealing with the pandemic.
“I am humbled by the tireless efforts and care of people around the globe for those affected by COVID-19, especially my own communities of Utah and France, in addition to my appreciation for the state of Oklahoma and my care there, and of course, my Utah Jazz family,” Gobert said in a statement.
Gobert was initially criticized for acting carelessly in the days before his diagnosis, including purposely touching microphones and tape recorders at a press conference. He later issued an apology for his behavior.
After Gobert’s test, teammate Donovan Mitchell also tested positive for coronavirus. The second-year guard released a statement to fans this weekend, thanking them for their support and telling them that he was remaining in self-isolation while recovering.
A number of other NBA players have stepped up to help those affected by the coronavirus pandemic. On Friday, New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson announced that he would be paying the salaries for all arena staff for the next 30 days while they are out of work during the league suspension. Cleveland Cavaliers star Kevin Love also announced that he was donating $100,000 to arena staff unable to work during the league’s indefinite hiatus.
As CNBC noted, Love said he wanted to help ease the anxiety that came from being out of work and facing the spread of the virus. The Cavaliers big man has been open about his own struggles with anxiety.
“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 a statement.