As he often does on the basketball court, Giannis Antetokounmpo took control of the situation.
It wasn’t in the form of a thunderous dunk or game-changing blocked shot, though. In this instance, Antetokounmpo impacted the livelihood of Fiserv Forum employees who make their living working hourly in the Milwaukee Bucks arena.
Following in the footsteps of Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love, Antetokounmpo promised to donate that substantial amount of money to ensure that arena employees have income while NBA games and events are suspended due to the coronavirus.
It’s bigger than basketball! And during this tough time I want to help the people that make my life, my family’s lives and my teammates lives easier. Me and my family pledge to donate $100,000 to the Fiserv Forum staff. We can get through this together! 🙏🏽
— Giannis Ugo Antetokounmpo (@Giannis_An34) March 13, 2020
His teammates followed suit. Fellow All-Star Khris Middleton announced that he would match Antetokounmpo’s donation. The team also promised to match any donation made by one of their players.
By Saturday morning, the entire Bucks roster had contributed to the fund, helping to support hourly employees whose lives would otherwise have been negatively impacted by loss of wages.
We’re all in this together Fear The Dear https://t.co/ClBvwkCkn9
— INDIANA GEORGE HILL (@George_Hill3) March 14, 2020
In late January, Fiserv Forum announced a new three and-a-half year contract agreement with an organization that represents arena employees. Terms of the deal would increase minimum wage to $15 per hour. Wisconsin’s current minimum wage in 2020 is $7.25.
That bump in pay isn’t set to go into effect until July 1, right before the Democratic National Convention is scheduled to take over the arena.
Player donations and acts of good will have quickly become the norm over the past 48 hours.
Love, as well as Detroit Pistons star Blake Griffin have donated $100,000.
Well Done BG. Big time. https://t.co/YIIVsaXLLV
— Kevin Love (@kevinlove) March 13, 2020
Jeremy Lin has made contributions in China and the United States.
Jeremy Lin, who already pledged $150,000 to fight the coronavirus in China, will donate an additional $150,000 to the United States Fund for UNICEF. He quoted Tupac in his announcement: "You see the old way wasn't working so it's on us to do what we gotta do, to survive" pic.twitter.com/IswKOsNrCj
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) March 14, 2020
The Atlanta Hawks, Golden State Warriors, Dallas Mavericks and others have announced plans to compensate hourly employees, including donations of $1 million.
The Cavaliers will pay workers of Rocket Mortgage Field House as if they are working scheduled shifts during the game-play stoppage.
Former President of the United States, Barack Obama, took to Twitter to thank players for helping out.
A shout out to Kevin, Giannis, Zion, Blake, Steph and all the players, owners and organizations who are setting a good example during a challenging time. A reminder that we’re a community, and that each of us has an obligation to look out for each other. https://t.co/cv1RZi9GGL
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) March 14, 2020
Zion Williamson, a 19-year old rookie, pledged to personally cover paychecks for Smoothie King Arana employees in New Orleans.
New Orleans' Zion Williamson says he is pledging to cover the salaries for all of the Pelicans arena staff workers for the next 30 days.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 13, 2020
There is no scheduled date to resume games. NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced that the league would revisit the situation after 30 days of suspension. All other professional sporting leagues who are currently playing games, including spring training for Major League Baseball, have also suspended day-to-day activity.
Since the postponement announcement, the Bucks were scheduled to play seven more home games in the month of March alone.
If an hourly employee was making $15 per hour, and working eight-hour shifts on game day, their pay before taxes would equal $840.
That is a substantial amount of money earned that could be put towards rent payments, child care, bills and other essential living expenses.
Both the wage estimation and scheduled hours are on the high side for an arena event. The guarantee rate of $15 doesn’t go into effect for another four months.