Hawks owner pledges to pay employees with NBA suspension lasting at least 30 days

Channel 2 Sports Director Zach Klein spoke with Tony Ressler about the coronavirus' impact on his employees.

It’s the main question on NBA fans minds: When will games start back up? For those who work in the arenas and for the teams, the question is “How will I make a living?”

While there are no NBA games for at least 30 days, Atlanta Hawks owner Tony Ressler is making sure all employees will still get paid, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“This is how, in my opinion, good business should be run,” Ressler told the AJC’s Sarah K. Spencer. “We want them to know that we’re committed to them, just as we want them to be committed to us. This is a relatively easy decision, it has been, for our senior staff. ... It seems to most of us it’s just the right thing to do. I don’t think it’s ever been a debate in our shop. Frankly, I’m proud of that. We’re thrilled to do it. We expected to do it.”

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“Candidly, I’m extraordinarily proud to work for someone like Tony, who weeks ago said ‘If we shut down, we have to take care of our part-time employees,’” Hawks CEO Steve Koonin said.

Other owners in the league are also committing to paying their workers and setting up programs. Meanwhile, NBA stars such as Zion Williamson, Kevin Love and Giannis Antetokounmpo have each donated $100,000 to arena workers so far.

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The NBA had announced Wednesday it would suspend the season after Utah Jazz players tested positive for COVID-19.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the league’s hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic will last for at least a month.

“What we determined today is that this hiatus will be, most likely, at least 30 days," Silver said on TNT’s “Inside The NBA" Thursday night.

The 30-day suspension means no games until at least April 10. The regular season originally was supposed to end April 15.

Silver also wrote an open letter to fans, saying in part “we intend to resume the season, if and when it becomes safe for all concerned."

Silver did not say if the NBA will finish the regular season play or move to postseason play if it returns this season.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Associated Press contributed to this report.