Kevin Love

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7 Athletes Making Donations In The Wake Of Coronavirus

Rob Joyce
March 19, 2020 - 5:09 pm

It’s mid-March, and what is normally the start of one of the great three-month stretches on the sports calendar is now uncertain. With everything suspended, cancelled or the like across the United States and beyond, it’s leaving the gameday workers and all the other behind-the-scenes folks who collect paychecks at these events in a precarious position. While some billionaire owners are setting up for such events, you’d like to think all others would step up, too.

The pro athletes they pay certainly have. Across the country we’ve seen players donate money and meals on a large scale to ensure those most affected by these shutdowns can get by. We’re sure we’ll have missed a few, here are a smattering of players to step up in a time of need:

Kevin Love: Others followed suit by their own accord, but Love is the de facto face of what has become a beautiful NBA movement. The Cavaliers star pledged $100,000 to the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse workers before owner Dan Gilbert said all of their paychecks would be covered.

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. And the fear and anxiety resulting from the recent outbreak of COVID-19 can be extremely overwhelming. Through the game of basketball, we've been able to address major issues and stand together as a progressive league that cares about the players, the fans, and the communities where we work. I'm concerned about the level of anxiety that everyone is feeling and that is why I'm committing $100,000 through the @KevinLoveFund in support of the @Cavs arena and support staff that had a sudden life shift due to the suspension of the NBA season. I hope that during this time of crisis, others will join me in supporting our communities. Pandemics are not just a medical phenomenon. They affect individuals and society on so many levels, with stigma and xenophobia being just two aspects of the impact of a pandemic outbreak. It's important to know that those with a mental illness may be vulnerable to the effects of widespread panic and threat. Be kind to one another. Be understanding of their fears, regardless if you don't feel the same. Be safe and make informed decisions during this time. And I encourage everyone to take care of themselves and to reach out to others in need -- whether that means supporting your local charities that are canceling events, or checking in on your colleagues and family.

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Zion Williamson: One of the first athletes to publicly announce his intentions, the Pelicans’ rookie is covering the pay of all Smoothie Center workers for the next 30 days, which basically covers what would have been the rest of the regular season. At just 19 years old and having played all of 19 NBA games in his career, this budding superstar just gets it.

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.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo: On the same day Love and Williamson announced they would help pay the gameday workers in their respective cities, the reigning MVP did the same in Milwaukee. Antetokounmpo pledged $100,000 to the staff at Fiserv Forum. Shortly thereafter, teammate Khris Middleton did the same, and the Bucks announced they would match.

Steph Curry: The two-time MVP and his wife, Ayesha, started the Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation to fight childhood hunger. In wake of the Oakland area schools closing for the foreseeable future, the two announced that the foundation would be donating to the county’s food bank to ensure all the students who need meals, get them. With over 18,000 students in the school system, counting breakfast and lunch, they’ll donate around one million meals over the next month or so.

The Warriors also donated $1 million to a disaster relief fund the organization’s foundation started. The Mavericks and Hawks organizations also donated money.

Rudy Gobert: The video of the Jazz big man touching all the microphones on his way out of a press conference, only to test positive for COVID-19 two days later, will live with him forever. However, his actions since then have been admirable. His apology appeared sincere, and he backed it up with a $500,000 donation to a variety of causes: paying employees at Vivint Smart Home Arena and foundations dedicated to fighting the coronavirus in Utah, Oklahoma City and France.

JJ Watt & Kealia Ohai: The newlyweds didn’t announce this publicly themselves, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Texans’ All-Pro and the Chicago Red Stars (and formerly Houston Dash) midfielder would donate $350,000 to the Houston Food Bank. Like the Currys, that money is expected to cover around one million meals.

If you recall, Watt also led the charge in the post-Hurricane Harvey donation efforts, helping raise over $41 million in aid.

George Springer: Astros these days aren’t exactly fan favorites. However, George Springer should get some praise for his $100,000 pledge to the workers at Minute Maid Park, with the start of baseball pushed back for at least a few weeks, if not months.

Some other athletes to donate include Blake Griffin, Spencer Dinwiddie, Alex Bregman, Karl-Anthony Towns and Jeremy Lin, among others.