With the NBA suspending its season indefinitely and closing the doors on its 28 arenas around the country for the foreseeable future with no games to be played, Cleveland Cavaliers star Kevin Love pledged $100,000 Thursday to aid arena workers displaced by the league’s response to the coronavirus.
“My hope is that others will step up!!” Love told ESPN via text message.
Love’s act of generosity echoes the joint statement released by the Cavs and their home arena, the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, on Thursday when they vowed to develop “a compensation plan to continue paying our event staff and hourly workforce that is impacted with the changes to our regular event schedule.”
There are “well over a thousand” workers that are employed at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse and the Canton Memorial Civic Center for the Cavs and the Charge, the Cavs’ G League affiliate, as well as for the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters, NCAA events and concerts, according to a team spokesperson.
Love announced his donation on his Instagram account, accompanied by a photograph of the five-time All-Star taking a selfie with a crowd of construction workers during the Fieldhouse’s recent renovation.
The photo was originally taken the day Love signed a four-year, $120 million extension with the Cavs in the summer of 2018.
“Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. And the fear and anxiety resulting from the recent outbreak of COVID-19 can be extremely overwhelming,” Love wrote as a caption to accompany the post.
“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 Kevin Love Fund 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.”
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban made similar assurances that those in his employ at the American Airlines Center would also be taken care of while the NBA is suspended.
“I reached out to the folks at the arena and our folks at the Mavs to find out what it would cost to financially support people who aren’t going to be able to come to work — you know, they get paid by the hour, and this is their source of income,” Cuban said during a press conference Wednesday. “We’ll do some things there. We may ask them to go do some volunteer work in exchange, but we’ve already started the process of having a program in place. I don’t have any details to give, but it’s certainly something that’s important to me.”
Tony Ressler, the Atlanta Hawks’ majority and controlling owner, also vowed to supply income for workers at State Farm Arena, telling The Athletic, “We are indeed and feel strongly it’s both the right thing to do and good business.”
There are several other teams putting together similar plans to provide help for displaced arena workers, sources familiar with the situation told ESPN. Some NBA teams, such as the Los Angeles Lakers with Staples Center, do not own the building they play in.
Lakers star Antony Davis, when asked about arena staff Wednesday, mentioned how mortgage payments were temporarily suspended in Italy amid the country’s coronvirus lockdown that was affecting some 60 million residents.
“That’s something that can happen,” Davis said. “I think that’s only fair. It’s not their fault that they can’t work. Hopefully something comes out where they’re able to help those guys out.”