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Gobert pledges more than $500,000 to arena workers, health services

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Los Angeles (AFP)

Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert, who apologized for his careless actions before he was diagnosed with novel coronavirus, has pledged to donate more than half a million dollars to health services and arena workers affected by the pandemic.

More than half the money will go towards COVID-19 related social service programs in Utah, Oklahoma City and the French health care system, the NBA's Jazz said in a statement on Saturday.

"These donations are a small token that reflect my appreciation and support for all those impacted and are the first of many steps I will take to try and make a positive difference, while continuing to learn more about COVID-19 and educate others," Gobert said in prepared remarks released by the Jazz.

Gobert will donate $200,000 in aid to part-time employees at the Jazz's arena who are unable to work as the NBA is shut down in a bid to combat the spread of the virus.

Another $200,000 will assist families affected by the outbreak in Utah and Oklahoma City. He also promised 100,000 euros ($111,400) for health care in his native France.

Gobert, who is from Saint-Quentin, tried to make fun of the NBA's policy to keep media members at a safe distance from players in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, touching all the microphones put before him on a table at a press conference last week.

It was just days later, on Wednesday, that his diagnosis with COVID-19 prompted the NBA to suspend its season indefinintely.

Gobert was reportedly similarly nonchalant about coronavirus risks in the locker room, touching other players and their belongings.

Gobert issued a public apology after Jazz teammate Donovan Mitchell confirmed Thursday that he tested positive for coronavirus.

"I was careless and make no excuse," he said. "I hope my story serves as a warning and causes everyone to take this seriously."

The NBA said Friday that the 27-year-old defensive standout, fondly nicknamed "The Stifle Tower," would not be fined or suspended for his microphone-touching stunt.

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