Zion’s Plan For New Orleans

by Samvidh Modur

How Zion made a commitment to the Smoothie King Stadium workers

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After center Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive for COVID-19, the league suspended the rest of the season indefinitely. NBA fans were extremely disappointed by this news, as they can no longer watch their favorite players in action. However, this delay affects more than just the players and coaches. Janitors and maintenance staff working at these arenas have suffered throughout the COVID-19 pandemic due to their salaries being in limbo. Because the owners are not paying the salaries of these stadium workers, Zion Williamson, a rookie on the New Orleans Pelicans, has decided to step up to pay these workers’ salaries at his home stadium.

Owners of certain teams have agreed to pay the salaries of the stadium workers, including entrepreneur Mark Cuban, who owns the Dallas Mavericks. However, several teams have disregarded these workers and refused to pay them; some have even laid these workers off. In a time of need for the stadium workers, some players have stepped up to pay the salary of these workers. Giannis Antentokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, Blake Griffin of the Detroit Pistons, Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Zion Williamson of the New Orleans Pelicans have all agreed to pay stadium workers when their owners did not. While it is great that these players are stepping up, it should not be their responsibility. This action shows the good personalities of the players, especially Zion. He is the only rookie among them and likewise is paid only a rookie contract. The maximum a rookie contract can earn for one season is five million dollars. While this is a lot of money, a rookie paying for all the stadium workers’ salaries would still not be a substantial portion.

Zion paid these salaries, he states in a caption on an Instagram post: “My mother has always set an example for me about being grateful for what we have. 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.” The owners of the franchise received major backlash from people on Twitter. Tweets referred to how it was commendable on the players for paying these workers; however, it was not their responsibility, as it was the owners’ who should have responded to this before the players.

Zion stepped up when the owners, Gayle and Tom Benson, did not by paying these worker’s salaries, especially in a difficult financial situation for him. While this does say much about his character, it is not his responsibility to respond to this. Gayle and Tom Benson, and every other owner who is not paying their workers’ salaries during this time, should all take more responsibility in taking care of their employees during a worldwide pandemic.