Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert donates $500K in wake of COVID-19 diagnosis

$200K will go to part-time Vivint Arena employees, the rest to Utah, Oklahoma, France

Toronto Raptors center Serge Ibaka (9) guards against Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) in the first half during an NBA basketball game Monday, March 9, 2020, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Rudy Gobert is donating over $500,000 in the wake of his positive test for the novel coronavirus, the Jazz announced Saturday.

A donation of $200,000 will go to part-time Vivint Smart Home Arena employees who will be impacted by the arena’s cancelation of all events there through the end of April. Donations of $100K each will go to families impacted by COVID-19 in the states of Utah and Oklahoma, the latter where Gobert was diagnosed with the virus. Another 100K euros will be donated to families in France affected by the disease.

“I know there are countless ways that people have been impacted,” Gobert said in a statement. "These donations are a small token that reflect my appreciation and support for all those impacted and are the first of many steps I will take to try and make a positive difference, while continuing to learn more about COVID-19 and educate others. Much gratitude, RG.”

The Jazz say more than 800 part-time arena employees in concessions, security, custodial work, and other services will be affected by the cancellation. There were 14 events remaining through the end of April on Vivint Arena’s calendar: 10 remaining home NBA games, four concerts. Friday’s scheduled NBA game against the New Orleans Pelicans was the Jazz first game suspended.

"I am humbled by the tireless efforts and care of people around the globe for those affected by COVID-19, especially my own communities of Utah and France, in addition to my appreciation for the state of Oklahoma and my care there, and of course, my Utah Jazz family,” Gobert’s statement continued.

There has not yet been information about what Utah Jazz and Vivint Arena ownership is doing for the affected arena workers. The release states that “employee assistance efforts [are] already being undertaken by Larry H. Miller Sports & Entertainment,” but does not specify the extent of those efforts.

“We are very much aware of the difficulties faced by our hourly employees due to the postponement of events. In addition to Rudy Gobert’s generous contribution, we are committed to an employee assistance effort which will be shared with them,” Jazz vice president of communications Frank Zang told the Tribune.

As of Saturday afternoon, the Jazz were one of 23 NBA teams to pledge assistance to their part-time arena employees during the cancelations.