Giannis Antetokounmpo, Zion Williamson donate to arena employees out of work due to coronavirus

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Zion Williamson donate to arena employees out of work due to coronavirus
© Getty Images

Zion Williamson and Giannis Antetokounmpo are the latest NBA stars to announce donations to arena employees who will be out of work as the season is suspended indefinitely over coronavirus fears.

Williamson, the 19-year-old No. 1 overall pick, announced on Instagram that he would pay one month's salary for the employees of the Smoothie King Center arena in New Orleans. 

"I am pledging to cover the salaries for all of those Smoothie King Center workers for the next 30 days," he wrote on Instagram. "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."  

ADVERTISEMENT

In his post, Williamson thanked the people of New Orleans for being "welcoming and supportive" since he was drafted by the Pelicans last year, and said that he hoped his donation would help give back. 

The team thanked Williamson in a statement, and said it's working on a way to give back to workers, as well. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Antetokounmpo also tweeted that he would pledge $100,000 to the staff at the Fiserv Forum, the home of his team the Milwaukee Bucks.

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

The players' generous donations come as many arena workers worry how they will pay their bills after the NBA suspended its season this week as the viral coronavirus spreads and a Utah Jazz player tested positive for the illness.

“The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of tonight’s schedule of games until further notice," the association announced Wednesday. "The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic."

Arena workers are among those nationwide affected by event cancellations and business closures due to fears over coronavirus, which the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a pandemic earlier this week. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhite House sued over lack of sign language interpreters at coronavirus briefings Wife blames Trump, lack of masks for husband's coronavirus death in obit: 'May Karma find you all' Trump authorizes reduced funding for National Guard coronavirus response through 2020 MORE declared a national emergency over the coronavirus on Friday, freeing up additional federal resources for state and local governments fighting the disease. He also pledged that the testing process would be overhauled and on Sunday new drive-thru testing locations would be announced.

As of Friday afternoon, 1,875 people in the U.S. had tested positive for the coronavirus. Public health officials have estimated that thousands of people likely have the virus but don’t know it, partly due to the lack of testing.

In response to the virus, school districts and universities around the country have canceled classes and major events, such as Coachella and South By Southwest, have been postponed.