Coronavirus: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Zion Williamson pledge to aid arena workers

March 13 (UPI) — Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo and New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson have joined other NBA stars in helping arena employees who were impacted by the NBA’s indefinite suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a tweet posted Friday, Antetokounmpo said he will pledge $ 100,000 to Fiserv Forum staff. Bucks senior vice president Alex Lasry said on social media Friday the franchise will match Antetokounmpo’s donation to arena workers in Milwaukee.

“It’s bigger than basketball! And during this tough time I want to help the people that make my life, my family’s lives and my teammates lives easier,” Antetokounmpo wrote on Twitter. “Me and my family pledge to donate $ 100,000 to the Fiserv Forum staff. We can get through this together!”

Meanwhile, Williamson posted to Instagram on Friday that he will cover the salaries of Smoothie King employees for the next month.

Williamson, who was selected with the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s NBA Draft, mentioned how many of the same people working at the Pelicans’ home arena are still recovering from Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“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,” Williamson wrote. “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.”

Williamson is scheduled to make about $ 9.8 million this season as part of his four-year, $ 44.2 million rookie deal, according to Spotrac. He also has endorsement deals with Jordan, Gatorade, Mercedes-Benz, Mountain Dew and Panini America, among others.

Detroit Pistons star Blake Griffin also pledged to donate $ 100,000 to help workers at the team’s Little Caesars Arena. He acknowledged the pledge Friday on Twitter, saying he was following the lead of Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love.

Love kicked off the recent string of pledges when he announced Thursday on social media that he will donate $ 100,000 through his foundation to support the employees at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland.

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