Zion Williamson Pledges to Cover Pels' Arena Workers' Salaries Amid Coronavirus

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMarch 13, 2020

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson walks onto the court during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat in New Orleans, Friday, March 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Rusty Costanza)
Rusty Costanza/Associated Press

Add New Orleans Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson to the list of players who are helping those who work at NBA arenas while the league is suspended because of concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Williamson announced on Instagram he will cover the salaries of Smoothie King Center workers for 30 days: 

"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. 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. 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. 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."

The Pelicans responded to Williamson's actions:

New Orleans Pelicans @PelicansNBA

Statement from the New Orleans Pelicans: https://t.co/BIE9IdGX97

Williamson's offer is similar to those from a number of notable players around the league.

Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo tweeted he and his family will donate $100,000 to those who work at Fiserv Forum, while Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love said on Instagram he was doing the same for those who work at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Elsewhere, Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin is donating the same amount to those who work at Little Caesars Arena, per Rod Beard of the Detroit News. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said he's making plans to pay hourly workers at the American Airlines Center during the league's suspension, per CNN's Allen Kim.

In hockey, Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky donated $100,000 to workers at BB&T Center, per George Richards of The Athletic. Bobrovsky's teammates matched the donation, while the team's ownership is helping as well.

Williamson pointed to the support he has received from the people of New Orleans in his message.

He has become a sensation for Pelicans fans since they selected him No. 1 overall in the 2019 NBA draft. He is averaging 23.6 points and 6.8 rebounds per game and has quickly become a fan favorite with his ability to sky through the air for head-turning dunks even as a 19-year-old with just 19 games on his NBA resume.

This gesture will only further cement Williamson's status as a favorite in the New Orleans area.


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