Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, the group that owns the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, has reversed course on a controversial decision to cut pay for at-will employees. In a bit of news reported on Monday, the ownership group for the pair of franchises planned on reducing the pay for those who make more than $50,000 a year by up to 20 percent from mid-April to the end of June. The news was eventually confirmed in a statement.
The Sixers and Devils, through Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment CEO Scott O’Neil, have confirmed @NYTSports’ report earlier tonight of salary reductions for full-time employees in both organizations with the following statement: pic.twitter.com/N7LMgvACAV
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) March 24, 2020
While this was said to be a voluntary measure for employees on contracts, there was still an outcry over the billionaires who own a pair of sports teams deciding to cut the salaries of working people during a pandemic. Joel Embiid offered to make a donation to cover the salaries of those impacted, while Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that other ownership groups were keeping an eye on whether this was worth the PR hit that came with the decision.
Well as it turns out, the first ownership group to determine it wasn’t worth it was Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment. According to Wojnarowski, the group decided to reverse course on the pay cuts.
76ers ownership is planning to change course, pulling back on salary reductions for staff, league source tells ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 24, 2020
This was eventually confirmed in a statement, as the group’s principal owner, Joshua Harris, announced that they would not cut pay and apologized for “getting this wrong.”
Following the decision, Embiid took to Twitter and praised the organization for “doing a 180.”
In these trying times, I’m proud of the Sixers organization for reversing course and “doing a 180”. Let’s focus on beating this Coronavirus now. Let’s be responsible and Trust the Process!!
— Joel “Do a 180” Embiid??? (@JoelEmbiid) March 24, 2020
There was serious, legitimate, and wholly justified outrage over the initial decision, and for the 1,500 hourly workers referenced in the above letter, hopefully this will lead to a sense of relief during a particularly terrifying time. Here’s to also hoping that any ownership group doesn’t do what Philly’s group originally wanted to do and takes care of those who need help more than ever right now.