Zion pledges to cover arena employees' salaries

Pelicans rookie forward Zion Williamson pledged to pay the salary of all employees of his home stadium in New Orleans for the next 30 days.

Williamson, 19, said via Instagram that he is committed to covering salaries of the Smoothie King Center employees for the next month, which coincides with the NBA's planned hiatus in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The venue also holds concerts and other shows, as well as Pelicans home games.

"The people of New Orleans have been incredibly welcoming and supportive since I was Drafted by the Pels last June, and some of the most special people I have met are those who work at smoothie King Center," Williamson wrote Friday. "These are the folks who make our games possible, creating the perfect environment for our fans and everyone involved in the organization. Unfortunately, many of them are still recovering from long-term challenges created by Katrina, and now face the economic impact of the postponement of games because of the virus. My mother has always set an example for me about being respectful for others and being grateful for what we have, and so today I am pledging to cover the salaries for all of those Smoothie King Center workers for the next 30 days. This is a small way for me to express my support and appreciation for these wonderful people who have been so great to me and my teammates and hopefully we can all join together to relieve some of the stress and hardship caused by this national health crisis. This is an incredibly resilient city full of some of the most resilient people, but sometimes providing a little extra assistance can make things a little easier for the community."

Williamson was the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft and is a frontrunner -- alongside Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant -- for Rookie of the Year despite missing two months of the season with a knee injury.

--Field Level Media