The day after the NBA shut down on March 11, Joe Tsai tweeted that he was working on a plan to pay hourly employees. And he did. When in those same scary days, the Nets noticed some players were exhibiting coronavirus symptoms, Sean Marks had the entire team and traveling party tested. Four Nets, one with symptoms, tested positive. Everyone was told to quarantine and players were advised to have daily communication with the team’s medical staff.
There were ethical issues with the tests as the Nets, other teams and other celebrities essentially cut in the national line while others in greater need had to wait and wait and wait. But from the inside, the view is different. Both moves, paying arena workers and getting players and staff tested, were popular.
In fact, the number of teams that have done both appears to be fewer than 10. There’s been little public comment from the players, other then Spencer Dinwiddie offering encouragement to Tsai and this tweet from Wilson Chandler Thursday when asked by the Glue Guys if he was happy with the Nets...
No complaints from me.— Wilson Chandler (@wilsonchandler) March 26, 2020
That may not seem like much of an endorsement but read the headlines Friday on SB Naton’s NBA page ... “Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta is the worst type of boss” and “NBA owners are acting too broke to pay staff — until they get pressured to,” stories on how the Rockets and 76ers owners have blown opportunities to do right for their hourly workers and professional staff.
Or this one in Saturday’s New York Daily News ... “Citi Field workers have not been paid amid coronavirus shutdown: ‘How are people supposed to live?’”
As the News’ Bradford William Davis wrote...
The [food workers] union praised Tsai and Levy Restaurants, the food service provider that handles Barclays and Nassau Coliseum, for informing their workers and promptly paying them even though, like Aramark’s food workers, they aren’t directly employed by the Nets.
“They’re actually running the payroll list by us,” Local 100 President Bill Granfield said. “[They’ll tell us,] ‘Here’s the Nets game that was canceled. Here’s the Islanders that game that was canceled.” Granfield said that union leaders are then able to respond to make sure the projected staffing amount is correct so every worker gets paid.
It should also be noted that Barclays Center and Levy’s donated five tons of food to the city’s food banks.
Another NBA owner, speaking on CNBC’s coronavirus virtual town hall the other night, hit the right note when he was asked about taking care of his employees. It’s not about short-term financial decisions, Marc Cuban said. It’s about how you’ll be viewed in the future, yes, your culture,
Cuban was the first NBA owner to pledge support for hourly workers at the Mavericks’ arena after the NBA shut things, and the Mavericks organization launched a program to pay for the child care of health-care workers.
“So not only is it smart to take care of your employees, but it’s also good business and that’s the way I’m looking at it.” Cuban told CNBC’s Scott Wapner.
Cuban warned companies what they do now, whether it’s taking care of your employees during the pandemic or sending them back to work too soon .
“How companies respond to that very question is going to define their brand for decades. If you rushed in and somebody got sick, you were that company. If you didn’t take care of your employees or stakeholders and put them first, you were that company,” he added.
The Mavs owner also said that he believes that young people in particular will remember what you do now. They, he believes, will see callous moves now as “unforgivable.”
An organization’s culture is built on many things, among them a spirit of community, but also a pride in what you’re doing and how your organization responds when things get bad.
Some may ask, Will it help the Nets on the court, in free agency? Doesn’t matter. and really who cares? It’s not the point. The question is, for now, callous and short-sighted in a city where sirens wail through the night and fear grows as exponentially as the number of positive tests —and deaths.
The last time the Nets played in Brooklyn, a mere three weeks ago, there were only 10 confirmed cases in the city and no one yet had died. We have a long way to go in this pandemic, but it is a bt of a comfort to know that you’re rooting for a team that has done well by its employees, including the least of them.