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NBA Players Step Up To Help Arena Workers After Coronavirus Ends Basketball Season

Blake Griffin, Giannis Antetokounmpo and more are making six-figure donations to cover employee salaries.

With the NBA season halted over the ongoing spread of COVID-19, several athletes are stepping up to help ease financial burdens. Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Zion Williamson are among the list of players who will be covering salaries for employees at various arenas around the country while the NBA season is postponed.

Griffin, who plays for the Detroit Pistons, is donating $100,000 to employees at the Little Ceasars Arena who are affected by the shut down. Love, of the Cleveland Cavaliers, will be donating $100,000 to aid staff at the Quicken Loans Arena.

Williamson, of the New Orleans Pelicans, will be covering salaries for Smoothie King Center employees for the next month. “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 crisis,” Williamson wrote on Instagram. “This is an incredibly resilient city full of some of the most resilient people, but sometime providing a little extra assistance can make things a little easier for the community.”

 

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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.

A post shared by Zion Williamson (@zionwilliamson) on

Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks forward and 2019 MVP) and his family have pledged $100,000  to help staff at Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum. “It’s bigger than basketball! And during this tough time I want to help the people that make my life, my family lives and my teammates lives easier,” he tweeted on Friday (March 13).

Utah Jazz player, Rudy Gobert, whose contraction of the coronavirus triggered the early end of basketball season, will be making a $500,000 donation in support of the Vivint Smart Home Arena and “COVID-related social service relief” in Utah, Oklahoma City, and health care efforts in his native country of France.

President Barack Obama sent a shout out to the players tweeting in part that the act of generosity stands as, “A reminder that we’re a community, and that each of us has an obligation to look out for each other.”

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Ice Cube’s Big3 League To Launch Quarantined Basketball Tournament

Ice Cube and the Big 3 League have come up with a plan to continue entertaining basketball fans quarantined due to the current global pandemic. Cube and the league are partnering with the producers of Big Brother for a “quarantined reality hoops tournament” kicking off in early May, the rapper and entrepreneur announced on Twitter last Thursday (March 27).

Continuing to change the game every day. @thebig3 is partnering with the producers of Big Brother to launch a quarantined reality hoops tournament in early May. pic.twitter.com/On3O8on4lH

— Ice Cube (@icecube) March 27, 2020

According to Yahoo! Sports, Cube and Big 3 co-founder, Jeff Kwatinetz, have been in talks with multiple networks to broadcast the tournament. The three-on-three tournament will reportedly include 16 to 22 players, all of whom have tested negative for coronavirus, and will be quarantined in Los Angles home, courtesy of the Big3 League. Cameras will capture the games and the players’ daily lives. The production crew will be housed at an offsite location.

Players will be eliminated after netting three losses. The top three remaining players will win millions in cash and prizes.

Kwatinetz said that the goal is to provide fans with a “safe, entertaining brand of basketball” to help get through the pandemic.

“Cube and I have been in the entertainment business for 30 years. This is our job,” Kwatinetz explained. “People want to be entertained with all we’re going through and enjoy our sports. We think this will help.”

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Michael Jordan speaks during The Celebration of Life for Kobe & Gianna Bryant at Staples Center on February 24, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.
Kevork Djansezian

ESPN's Michael Jordan Docuseries 'The Last Dance' Pushed Up To April

Basketball fans have been going through withdrawals since the NBA has suspended its season because of the coronavirus, but they'll get the next best thing. ESPN has announced that its Michael Jordan documentary The Last Dance would be released in April instead of June.

The Last Dance, a ten-part series, will now begin on April 19. It tells the story of Jordan and the Bulls' last championship season in 1997-1998, and includes never-before-seen footage from an NBA Entertainment crew that followed them around that year. ESPN also spoke to more than 100 people close to the team.

"As society navigates this time without live sports, viewers are still looking to the sports world to escape and enjoy a collective experience," ESPN said in a statement. "We've heard the calls from fans asking us to move up the release date for this series, and we're happy to announce that we've been able to accelerate the production schedule to do just that. This project celebrates one of the greatest players and dynasties ever, and we hope it can serve as a unifying entertainment experience to fill the role that sports often play in our lives, telling a story that will captivate everyone, not just sports fans."

The NBA suspended its season after two-time defensive player of the year Rudy Gobert, of the Utah Jazz, tested positive for the coronavirus. Had the season not been suspended, fans would be preparing for the NBA's playoff race. Other sports leagues followed suit after the NBA's decision, and other athletes, including Gobert's teammate Donovan Mitchell and Brooklyn Nets Star Kevin Durant, have also tested positive. Mitchell and Gobert have since been cleared of the virus.

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DJ D-Nice, Swae Lee And Victor Oladipo Sign Up For NBA’s Instagram Live Performances

Although the NBA is currently on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the professional basketball league is still giving fans content to dissect. On Friday (March 27), the entity continues its NBA Together Live campaign with performances from Rae Sremmurd’s Swae Lee alongside Indiana Pacers’ Victor Oladipo (who also sings), and DJ D-Nice who has kept the virtual dance party going since earlier this month.

The NBA Together program was launched in response to the virus’ outbreak that has plagued several countries. Stateside, New York has remained the epicenter of the coronavirus’ contagion rate.

"The program is centered on four pillars—Know the Facts, Acts of Caring, Expand Your Community and NBA Together Live—that will amplify the latest global health and safety information, share guidelines and resources, and keep people and communities socially connected through digital tools and virtual events as everyone copes with the impact of the pandemic," a statement from the entity reads. "As part of NBA Together, the NBA family is committed to contributing and helping raise more than $50 million to support people impacted by the coronavirus and community and healthcare organizations providing vital services around the world, which includes the more than $30 million financial commitment already made by NBA and WNBA teams and players to date."

Swae Lee and Oladipo will launch their performances on the NBA’s Instagram channel at 3 p.m. EST while DJ D-Nice will take over from 7-9 p.m. EST.

 

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#NBATogetherLive brings you a special edition of @dnice’s #ClubQuarantine on @nba IG LIVE at 7:00pm/et TONIGHT!

A post shared by NBA (@nba) on Mar 27, 2020 at 11:11am PDT

 

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🎙 @vicoladipo of the @pacers will be going live on our NBA Instagram at 3:00pm/et TODAY for a concert with some special guests! #NBATogetherLive

A post shared by NBA (@nba) on Mar 27, 2020 at 7:30am PDT

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