DALLAS — As Australian NBA players have watched bushfires ravage over 12 million acres of their country from afar, Ben Simmons, Jonah Bolden, Aron Baynes (Phoenix Suns), Ryan Broekhoff (Dallas Mavericks), Joe Ingles (Utah Jazz), Thon Maker (Detroit Pistons), Patty Mills (San Antonio Spurs), Matthew Dellavedova and Dante Exum (Cleveland Cavaliers) all started a group chat about what they could do to help.
Partnering with the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), the nine players will contribute $750,000 USD toward relief and recovery efforts in support for their country, which is braving through devastation that is far from over.
Simmons, who's experienced having to evacuate from bushfires as a kid in South Wales, explained the destruction is on "another level."
“I’ve seen pictures and videos and can’t imagine being back home right now,” he said.
“The sheer size of what’s going on,” Bolden explained of the fires that have swept through an area nearly the size of Austria. “The amount of people being affected by it, the wildlife.”
According to the Associated Press, 27 people have died nationwide, and about half a billion animals have been affected, and those numbers will continue to grow.
“Being away while this is happening is obviously devastating,” Bolden said of wanting to be in his country to help. “I just saw something about the U.S. fire fighters that just landed there to help out with the Australian fire fighters.”
For Bolden, he’s trying to focus on what he can do, rather than what he can’t.
“My whole thing is trying to turn it into a positive," he said. "The way I’m trying to look at it is starting with us coming together for the immediate response and continuing that effort for the reform and rebuild. The immediate response is putting out the fires, but then it’s, ‘What can we do next?’ How can we turn it into a positive thing?”
The efforts will continue Saturday night as the Sixers take on the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center. Both Simmons and Bolden will stand alongside Mavs forward Broekhoff as he addresses the crowd before the game.
“It says who we are as Australians,” Simmons said. “We are going to stick together when our country needs you. We are a very proud country and we come together in times of need.”
It’s bigger than basketball.
“You have people all over the world, you want to think that when things aren’t going their way that other people want to help and continue to build that world love," he said.
For information on how to get involved and to donate, visit here.
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