Rudy Gobert pledges more than $800,000 to coronavirus relief effort

Frenchman Rudy Gobert, the first NBA player known to have tested positive for the coronavirus, is donating more than $US500,000 ($A809,000) to support both the employee relief fund at the Utah Jazz's home arena and COVID-19-related social services relief in Utah, Oklahoma City and the French health care system, the NBA team says.

"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 a statement released by the Jazz.

Rudy Gobert (right) has pledged a donation of more than $US500,000 to help various groups affected by the coronavirus pandemic.Credit:AP

The pledged donation will provide $US200,000 in aid to part-time employees at the Jazz home arena who are not able to work due to the postponement of NBA games and other entertainment events, in conjunction with employee assistance efforts already being undertaken by team owners, the Jazz said.

Additionally, Gobert will contribute $US100,000 each to assist families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in Utah and Oklahoma City plus €100,000 for his native France.

The NBA suspended its season indefinitely last week after it was confirmed Gobert had tested positive for COVID-19.

The test result was reported shortly prior to the tip-off of Thursday's (AEDT) game between the Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder in Oklahoma City and the game was cancelled.

Gobert was not in the arena.

Gobert had earlier in the week joked about the NBA's policy to keep media members at a safe distance from players in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. He touched all the microphones and other recording equipment at the press table after concluding interviews with the media in a room at the Jazz's press facility.

He also continued to high-five teammates before it was announced that coronavirus had become a pandemic.

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

Gobert's financial pledge comes on the heels of several other NBA players publicly announcing similar donations to help arena workers who will be missing out on income because of no games or other events in their facilities.

New Orleans rookie Zion Williamson said he would cover one month of salaries for workers at Smoothie King Arena, and NBA stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton of the Milwaukee Bucks, Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Blake Griffin of the Detroit Pistons have all made $US100,000 pledges.

Many NBA and NHL teams have said they are working to help arena employees who will be adversely affected by the shutdown.

Reuters, with AP

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