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Hawks Owner Tony Ressler To Implement Program For Arena Employees

The Hawks' owner will follow Mark Cuban in ensuring that employees at State Farm Arena will continue to be paid.
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In the wake of the NBA suspending its season indefinitely, Hawks owner Tony Ressler announced that he would implement a plan to make sure employees of State Farm Arena. 

"We are indeed and feel strongly it's both the right thing to and good business," Ressler said via email. 

Ressler's decision came after Mavericks owner Mark Cuban announced that he would see to it that employees at American Airlines Arena in Dallas would continue to have income despite the postponing of games. Cuban mentioned the possibility of having employees do charity work to recoup the money they would have earned working at home games. Ressler has not publicly specified how he might implement his plan. 

Ressler and Hawks GM Travis Schlenk addressed the team in the locker room last night after Atlanta's loss to the Knicks about how to proceed during the NBA's forthcoming dark period, the necessary precautions to take, and where the league might go from here. The Hawks will not practice anytime in the foreseeable future and have encouraged players and coaches to stay indoors and avoid contact with other people as best they can. 

"We have to be smart in how we respond," Cuban said. "This is people's lives at stakes. This isn't about basketball. This isn't about the Mavericks. This isn't about when do we start, do we start? Or how do we start? This is a pandemic, a global pandemic where people's lives are at stake." 

Other teams are reportedly considering taking similar steps that the Mavs and Hawks have, though none have announced any specific plans yet. Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie expressed support for arena staff and emphasized the importance of setting up infrastructure to support them: 

The decision to suspend the season came just minutes after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for novel coronavirus on Wednesday. His teammate, Donovan Mitchell, has since been diagnosed with the virus, and it's likely that several other players around the NBA are carrying it. 

Players around the NBA -- including Hawks center Clint Capela -- have reacted to Gobert's diagnosis and the suspension of the season on Twitter, expressing optimism for Gobert's recovery and urging caution for those trying to avoid the virus: 

Evan Fournier, Gobert's French countryman, said on Wednesday night that Gobert seemed to be doing well after finding out he had contracted COVID-19: 

Other players, including LeBron James and Ja Morant, reacted with frustration over yet another wrinkle in a chaotic start to the calendar year: 

Expect more news to break in the coming weeks as the league figures out its next steps, and take the proper precautions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 -- including social distancing, washing hands, and, if necessary, self quarantining. This is likely only the start of a larger wave that could shake the NBA and the rest of the world even more than it already has.