The 76ers have had quite the slew of headlines in recent history, and most of them not with the most positive connotations. Aside from the countless stories that made news surrounding The Process, this may be the worst press the team has had in a long time.
Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment announced on Tuesday that salaried employees who work in the arenas where the Sixers and New Jersey Devils play have until Thursday to agree to a 20% salary reduction sources reported to ESPN. Adrian Wojnarowski reported that it would mainly affect any employee making $50K or more, as they would be “required” to accept the reductions. However, contracted workers such as players and coaches, are required to “volunteer” for the reduction to take place.
This proposal is insulting from owner Josh Harris, who is valued at nearly four billion dollars net worth. This also alludes to the expected length of the season suspension due to COVID-19. We’re two weeks into this pandemic and owners are ALREADY considering moves like this.
This created a PR nightmare as one would imagine. The Harris Blitzer group is one of the wealthiest ownership groups in all of sports. This is certainly not the type of story you want associated with your brand.
Compare this to Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, who has been leading the way in terms of his pay to employees. Cuban guaranteed pay for the remainder of the season, regardless of how long this hiatus lasts.
Joel Embiid has always been a fan favorite in Philly, not only for his play on the floor, but his willingness to speak up. JoJo did exactly that when this pay cut proposal was announced, offering a $500,000 coronavirus relief fund to help the Sixers employees impacted, as well as aiding survival efforts in the Philadelphia community.
Joel “Do a 180” Embiid tweeted out following the statement from Josh Harris, celebrating the front office decision to change course in these trying times. Woj also broke the news as soon as the statement was released.
Minority owner Michael Rubin also tweeted after the front office had changed their minds, Rubin has been a big believer in changing societal norms so no surprise he was upset with the initial decision. Rumors are swirling around that Rubin initially leaked the information regarding the proposed pay-cut.
Rights to Ricky Sanchez host Spike Eskin also chimed in on twitter, claiming the real reason the team changed course is because of Joel, not the fans negative reactions.
The Sixers statement following all the backlash is short and to the point — as it should be. A simple apology and explanation of tough business decisions amid the worldwide crisis we find our society in at the moment.
While Adam Silver and company weigh their options, the NBA community gets a chance to learn from the latest mistake by the Philadelphia 76ers.
Who knows what would’ve happened if this city didn’t have a player like Joel Embiid. His gesture is something that should speak volumes to Philadelphia fans, willing to do whatever it takes to set the standard not only in his organization but in his community.
I know fans were booing Embiid earlier this year but this move just proves why he truly is one of us. JoJo deserves a huge thank you from all Philadelphia citizens.
Ownership issues aside it is encouraging to see the organization listen to Embiid and the community. Hopefully the front office will continue to weigh the player and fan perspective before making such rash business decisions in the future.
Thank you Joel Embiid and Sixers twitter. Without this, Harris would be taking every penny he could from Sixers employees.