Oklahoma City is often on the forefront of taking care of their own. They preach family and loyalty. However, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Thunder have remained silent, despite being at the epicenter of the NBA’s suspending the season.
The Timberwolves announced on Wednesday they were paying workers for games missed, leaving the rest of the fans to wonder what Oklahoma City is doing. At least the Utah Jazz, who are only paying some of the workers (and not with the money Rudy Gobert donated for them). Some will not be paid. However, it’s still more than what the Thunder are currently doing.
There is this increased thought of: “Well, the Thunder are private in their talks.”
The Thunder are only silent when it comes to player movements. When it comes to touting their philanthropic achievements, they are one of the tops in the league. Yet, they remain silent.
It’s not just the silence that is unbearable. It’s the communication between game day staff and the organization that is most pressing. When asked how the organization is going to help as most work two jobs and depend on the money, one unnamed source due to fear of repercussions from the team said: “They said there was nothing they could do.”
There is a misconception about the $100,000 donated by Gobert. It is intended for coronoavirus-related social services, not to pay the arena employees.
From the Thunder drummers to your usher that helps you find your seat and is that first real smiling face you see, many work two jobs. They may be a senior citizen and this is their only means of income. The suspension of the NBA has hurt more than just the fans, it’s hurt the employees. As a different source told me, “I have a full-time job but what about those who bartend or wait tables? That’s gone now, too.”
Currently, arena employees have missed four dates. Thunder game day staff has missed three dates.
“It’s not a lot of money working games,” said one source. “People still count on that to pay their bills and to put food on the table.”
The silence is deafening when talking to those within SMG. The Thunder have not made any real comments to those at SMG about supplementing the pay. There are multiple factors that do go into all of this. You have your payroll tax. Do you pay it twice when the games are eventually made up? Do you just wait to see? For all of his faults, Dallas Maverick’s owner Mark Cuban sees no issue with paying people twice.
“There’s issues of payroll taxes. Do you pay the payroll taxes if they don’t work?” Cuban said. “There’s issues of, ‘What happens if the games are actually played in the future? Do we pay them twice?’ I personally don’t care. That’s fine.”
The players have remained quiet, too. Gone are the days where we’ve seen Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook donate their own funds to help those in need. This overturned roster hasn’t stepped up to the plate. Though, only a handful of players have. It should fall on the owners of these multi-million dollar franchises and according to Forbes, are valued at $1.5 billion in Feb. 2020. It should be noted the Thunder lost $23 million last season, as the only team in the NBA to lose money last season.
While the Thunder remain quiet on the front, the concern rages. Why haven’t this organization that preaches family and loyalty stepped up to say something. There are many who feel left out by the team with something they cannot control.We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Don't forget to subsribe on Youtube! Our Podcast is on iTunes and on Stitcher. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!