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An Overview of the 76ers' COVID-19 Relief Efforts in Philadelphia

When the NBA went on a necessary lockdown earlier last month due to the COVID-19 outbreak within the league, many were hardly worried about losing sports for the moment. Instead, there were tons of concern for the hourly workers employed in team arenas as they were going to lose that stream of income for however many months.

Thankfully, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban stepped up and made it clear that those who are employed at the American Airlines Center would receive their money for the lost games somehow. From there, a trend started -- and the Philadelphia 76ers were one of a handful of teams, who jumped on the bandwagon to help.

Josh Harris, the Managing Partner of the Sixers, pledged to help pay for those who work Sixers games at the Wells Fargo Center a few days after the NBA shut down. “In this time of need, we need to band together and take care of people,” Harris said in a statement a few weeks ago. “Our teams, our cities, and the leagues in which we operate are a family, and we are committed to looking out for one another.”

Harris received credit for that move, but it wouldn't be long before Harris, and the Sixers caught heat for a move that was in the works. In order to cut back costs during a period where money isn't flowing in, Harris was looking to issue pay cuts to certain Sixers employees, who met a particular criteria.

But that decision didn't last long. Harris admitted he was wrong less than a day after his plans went public, and he decided to reverse his decision. While it surely wasn't a good look for Harris, his co-partner David Blitzer, and the Sixers' organization as a whole, the entire fiasco caused a spark in ideas. And now, select members of the Sixers are lending a helping hand to the city of Philadelphia and beyond in order to fight COVID-19.

Joel Embiid Turns a Negative Situation Into a Positive

While Josh Harris and Harris-Blitzer Sports & Entertainment were mulling on their decision to enforce pay cuts or not, Sixers' All-Star center Joel Embiid attempted to take the spotlight off of the team's management for a good reason.

The team's superstar big man was pledging half a million dollars to COVID-19 relief to help survival and protection efforts in the community, according to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne. And although he didn't need to, Embiid was willing to help make up for lost money to the Sixers employees who were going to be affected by the team's cuts. Ultimately, Embiid didn't have to shell out anything, but his willingness to help out wouldn't go unnoticed.

Ben Simmons Fires up 'The Philly Pledge'

Joel Embiid kickstarted a trend among Sixers players. While Embiid dished out $500,000 of his own money, Ben Simmons launched a campaign in an effort to generate even more through those who are willing to donate.

'The Philly Pledge' is a project, which has all top Philadelphia athletes, and celebrities promoting two useful non-profit organizations, Philabundance and the PHL COVID-19 Response, under one name. Through 'The Philly Pledge's' first week, Simmons and other athletes have helped drive-in over $350,000  as they've picked up over 1,700 single donations of $25 or over.

The Organization Leaders Bounce Back

Josh Harris and David Blitzer had a bad rap last week. This week is a different story, however. Call it 'damage control' or an attempt to 'save face' if you please, but no matter what Harris and Blitzer's intentions are -- it's helping.

One of the non-profits Simmons has been promoting picked up a six-figure donation from the Sixers' leading partners on Monday. Then, the Philadelphia School District received a seven-figure check to purchase 10,000 Chromebooks for students in the city.

On Tuesday, Harris sent another six-figure donation to RWJBarnabas, which is a network of independent healthcare providers in New Jersey. Then on Thursday, Harris, Blitzer, and the 76ers made two more donations to Cooper Hospital in Camden, New Jersey, and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

By the end of the week on Friday, Harris, and company ended up joining forces with Joel Embiid and making a $1.3 million donation to Penn Medicine to establish a funding campaign for COVID-19 antibody testing of front line health care workers.

Al Horford Joins the Trend

Thursday was a big day for the Sixers. Just hours after Harris and Blitzer's latest donations went public, another member of the team made a donation of his own. After inking a four-year, $109 million deal with the Sixers last summer, Al Horford is looking to put some of that money to good use.

A $500,000 donation to each region that Horford played basketball in, including Philadelphia, was made by the Sixers' big man on Thursday. Horford's contribution was one of the latest to come from the Sixers. With the way things have been going, though, it seems there's a good chance his effort will not be the last from a member of the 76ers.

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_