The NBA season is still postponed with no commencement in sight. But that hasn’t stopped Joel Embiid from stepping up and representing his city. The superstar originally from Cameroon has decided to pledge $500K to COVID-19 medical relief and to help survival and protection efforts in the community, per ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. She adds that Embiid is also “committed to helping Sixers employees who will suffer financial hardship in light of the franchise’s salary reductions.”
Yesterday it was reported that the Sixers would be temporarily reducing salaries for employees starting next month. Here, per Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice, was a statement from HBSE CEO Scott O’Neil:
The Sixers just provided a statement from HBSE CEO Scott O'Neil on the salary-reduction decision: https://t.co/fAAKd2RvPE pic.twitter.com/8U4e6N5f5b— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) March 24, 2020
As our Sean Kennedy wrote in that piece linked above “Still, does it look great for the organization from a public relations standpoint? No, it does not.”
And it looks even less great from a PR standpoint now that the team’s biggest star takes it upon himself to try to reduce a burden implemented by owners far wealthier than Embiid.
There are a lot of Sixers owners in *name*, but the two that are the actual owners who make decisions are Harris and Blitzer. No offense to the others, but it's always Harris and Blitzer.— Spike Eskin (@SpikeEskin) March 24, 2020
Josh Harris has a net worth of $3.9 billion, per Forbes. Michael Rubin $2.9b. Not going to list every partner, but they aren't broke. They bought the team for $280m and it's now valued at $2b.— Derek Bodner (@DerekBodnerNBA) March 24, 2020
And Embiid is stepping in to pay their employees. Interesting PR situation we have. https://t.co/LkpjS5rht6
The perception that owners with multibillions of dollars are telling some hard working employees to take less money while the team’s players may be stepping up to help them has appeared to unite segments of the Sixersphere whom otherwise never seem to agree on anything.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, members of the coaching staff and front office under contract have until Thursday to “volunteer” to take a pay cut. Being asked to give money back to bosses who need it less than you do, during a time of global crisis, seems like the type of decision one only makes if he or she feels they’ll be fired if they don’t:
Only at-will employees -- over $50K a year in salary -- are required to accept the Sixers salary reductions. Those under contract are needed to "volunteer" to do it. https://t.co/irBrW1DNpm— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 24, 2020
The Sixers PR team has their work cut out for them today with criticism seemingly ubiquitous around Twitter and major media outlets. But Embiid’s generosity and sensitivity to the times is the biggest story here and should not be overlooked. The Sixers are very lucky to have him for many reasons stemming well beyond the hardwood. As WIP’s Howard Eskin said, great job JoJo.