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How teams and players around NBA are taking care of arena staff during hiatus

How teams and players around NBA are taking care of arena staff during hiatus

In the days since the NBA suspended its season in response to the outbreak of COVID-19, athletes around the league have rallied to financially assist non-salaried arena employees and event staff that looked to be left in the dark by the indefinite postponement of games.

Kevin Love became the first to make a gesture when he pledged $100,000 to Cavaliers arena and support staff during the league’s hiatus:

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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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On Friday, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Blake Griffin and Zion Williamson followed in Love’s footsteps:

 

 

 

Rudy Gobert, the first player in the NBA to test positive for COVID-19, chipped in $500,000 for an employee relief fund:


Some teams and ownership groups have done the same.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, for one, has been upfront about Dallas’ intent to put together a compensation package for hourly employees from the get-go. This statement from Cuban was made mere hours after the suspension of the season was first announced:

 

Cuban has since elaborated on those plans, saying that for the Mavericks’ next four scheduled home games, the organization will pay hourly employees “as if they worked.”

And the Cavaliers, by whom Love is employed, announced that they plan to compensate all Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse employees as if previously scheduled events were taking place:

 

The Phoenix Suns guaranteed all part-time and hourly workers at Talking Stick Resort Arena full compensation for their six remaining previously scheduled home games:


The DeVos family, who own the Orlando Magic, announced a $2 million compensation package for hourly workers (Magic players have also contributed):


According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Golden State Warriors will donate $1 million to their disaster relief fund for arena employees:


The Trail Blazers are currently formulating a plan to pay their part-time arena employees, according to Jason Quick of The Athletic:

 

Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Hawks owner Tony Ressler has expressed an intention to “take care of” full- and part-time employees, though no official plans have been rolled out yet.

Dana Gauruder of the Detroit Free Press reported that the Pistons, who employ Griffin, will pay all of their full- and part-time employees during the hiatus, as well as look to provide financial assistance to outside companies who help staff Little Caesars Arena.

According to Farbod Esnaashari of Sports Illustrated, full- and part-time Clippers employees have been assured they’ll be paid in accordance with their regular schedule, though Staples Center personnel are still unsure of how they’ll be compensated.

The Milwaukee Bucks committed to matching Antetokounmpo’s donation, as well as any Bucks player that might donate in the future:

 

The New Orleans Pelicans put out the following statement:

 

And finally: “We are considering ways to help our impacted employees,” said a United Center spokesperson when asked for comment.

Sometimes the darkest times can breed the most heartening gestures. Many across the league are proving that. These are unchartered waters, so the hope is, with time, everyone in need is addressed in an appropriate manner.

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Why Bulls-Pistons 1991 playoff walkoff remains iconic in Chicago sports history

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USA Today

Why Bulls-Pistons 1991 playoff walkoff remains iconic in Chicago sports history

“Straight up bitches. That’s what they walked off like.”

Talk about a putback slam.

Horace Grant delivered one of the most powerful quotes of “The Last Dance” documentary.

The former Bulls power forward dunked all over the “Bad Boy” Detroit Pistons for walking off the floor in the waning moments of Game 4 of the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals.

Wednesday marks one of the most iconic anniversaries in Chicago sports history. On May 27, 1991, the Bulls beat the Pistons 115-94 en route to an emphatic series sweep. Just over two weeks later, they were NBA champions.

Up until “The Last Dance,” the most memorable takeaway from that Game 4 victory wasn’t necessarily a key play or a postgame quote. It was a number: 7.9.

That’s the amount of seconds that were left on the clock when Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer and company ducked past the Bulls bench—without so much as a handshake— and eventually out of sight at the Palace in Auburn Hills.

It is one of the most iconic images in the Chicago sports canon. One could argue it belongs on a Bulls “Mount Rushmore” of images with, perhaps, Michael Jordan’s free throw line dunk in the 1988 Slam Dunk Content Or MJ weeping while holding the Larry O’Brien trophy after the ’91 Finals win over the Lakers. Or his final shot against the Jazz in 1998.

[MORE: Recounting the most memorable quotes from "The Last Dance"]

What transpired in suburban Detroit on that Memorial Day was more than just a victory or even a series sweep. It was a passing of the torch. Or, maybe, the Pistons’ torch was simply doused a’la the Wicked Witch of the West. Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Phil Jackson and company caused the “Bad Boys” to melt under the lights of a national TV broadcast and ensuing media scrutiny. 

Many Chicago fans remember the brutal, sometimes bloody Bulls-Pistons games in the handful of years up until that Monday in Motown. The Bulls lost three consecutive playoff series against the Pistons, two of which came in the conference finals. The victory was not just a flag-planting in the ground. It was a relief.

And with that win, the Bulls took more of the Chicago sports spotlight. The Ditka-era Bears were fading. The Cubs were mediocre at best. The White Sox were on the rise but were still a few years away. The Blackhawks finished first in the Norris Division that year but were bounced quickly in the playoffs. The Bulls were THE story in town.

Imagine if the Pistons had won that ’91 playoff series. That would have made four consecutive playoff headaches courtesy of the Pistons. Do the Bulls rise up again? Do the Bulls even end up getting to the 1992 NBA Finals?

Be thankful for that day in Detroit.

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Report: Ex-Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau leads list of Knicks targets

Report: Ex-Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau leads list of Knicks targets

When David Fizdale was fired by the New York Knicks in December, it was fair to assume a coaching search would come in the offseason. Now, even with the NBA season still in limbo amid the coronavirus pandemic, that search is set to begin, according to a report from Shams Charania and Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic.

At the top of their list of targets? Our old friend Tom Thibodeau, according to the report. Thibodeau has been reported as a candidate for the position in the past. The Athletic report notes that interim coach Mike Miller (17-27) and former Brooklyn Nets coach Kenny Atikinson are also expected to interview.

Thibodeau last coached in the 2018-19 season, but was fired by the Minnesota Timberwolves two-and-a-half seasons into a five-year contract. He amassed just a 97-107 (.475) record with the franchise, but helmed the 47-35 squad that snapped a 13-season playoff drought in 2017-18. The following year kicked off with the Jimmy Butler practice saga, which resulted in a trade of the star just 13 games into the season and foreshadowed Thibodeau’s eventual dismissal in January.

Thibodeau landed in Minnesota after being axed by the Bulls in the wake of the 2015 season. He led the Bulls through their winningest stretch of the 21st century, coaching to a 255-139 (.647) record from 2010-2015 that included five playoff appearances, three 50-win seasons, two first-place finishes in the Eastern Conference, an Eastern Conference finals berth and a Coach of the Year award. His resume is as stacked as any coach on the market.

The Bulls have been mired in a rebuild since his departure. The Knicks, should they land Thibodeau, will hope he can pull them out of theirs.