The bizarre world of RJ Barrett from Knicks’ coronaviruses includes big donations


Last week, the Knicks rookie RJ Barrett went to pick up a package for his grandmother. He didn’t even get out of the car, but someone recognized him from afar. And it blew his mind.

“I really forgot that I play in the NBA,” he told the Post. “It is such a different reality that we are right now. “

The 19-year-old rides the confinement of the coronavirus with his family in Orlando, Florida, plays video games, relaxes with his French bulldogs, Kobe and Kingston, and bonds with his little brother, Nathan. This is a bizarre new world for the 6 foot 7 inch shooting guard who only knows the fast paced life of a ball player. But while he had to shake the cobwebs to remember his status as one of the promising young stars in the league, he did not forget his adopted hometown of New York and all those who are fighting frantically to keep the whole city because it remains the epicenter of the COVID -19 pandemic.

“I followed social media and watched the news, seeing how things have gotten much worse. What really struck me was all the workers at the hospital. These people risk their lives and go home and stay in the same house as their families and children. I wanted to see what I could do to help, “said Barrett, who was particularly sorry to see the coverage of Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center in Brownsville, a facility so swamped with the deadly virus that an emergency room doctor called it a “medical war zone.” “

“My mother grew up in Brooklyn. My family is there and it hit me a little harder. We have to protect these workers as much as they protect us. “

His team contacted the staff of Governor Andrew Cuomo to see where it could plug the most gaping holes. The answer is always the same: New York hospitals are in desperate need of PPE. His team therefore embarked on an odyssey to find disposable face masks, disposable face shields, KN95 masks, gowns and microporous suits from distributors around the world. They will be distributed to the relief efforts of Brookdale and the Cuomo government.

From there, the Barrett team developed a play to maximize their donation power and ensure that every move was made with a purpose.

“I just wanted to give people what they needed,” said Barrett. And it was not a one-size-fits-all answer.

After reading stories that shoes contributed to the spread of the coronavirus, the athlete Puma teamed up with the sneaker company to donate more than 1,000 pairs of sneakers and slippers to Brookdale, the Maimonides Hospital and Credit Valley Hospital in Canada so that medical workers can leave their contaminated shoes at work. and have fresh equipment to take home.

RJ Barrett, Knicks rookie
RJ Barrett, Knicks rookieCorey Sipkin

Barrett also looked north, his Canadian homeland, where the virus had caused a very different crisis: the depletion of food bank supplies. He deposited $ 100,000 in the Mississauga Food Bank, which has nine branches in Ontario.

“I just spoke to them and they said the donation would provide 200,000 meals and that made me smile,” said Barrett.

He then turned to his colleagues, the people who keep the engine running in the most famous arena in the world.

“I love playing at Madison Square Garden. I’m cool with security guards. Everyone who works at MSG takes such good care of me, ”said Barrett. “I thought about everything they do for us. They are incredible people. “

He donated $ 25,000 to the MSG Relief Fund, which provides employees with financial assistance for a variety of areas, including unexpected medical expenses, rent, food, medication and other expenses.

When all the checks were cashed and the equipment shipped, Barrett’s help was worth $ 250,000.

“If we can make their lives easier and help people survive, this is what it is about,” he said.

Meanwhile, Barrett tries to stay in shape and avoid boredom.

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“I regularly do stuff for kids like video games,” said Barrett, who runs errands and works on equipment in his home. He is watching old hoop games.

“I watch the old NBA playoffs, women’s college basketball, tons of basketball. And I can’t wait for the release of the MJ documentary, “he said of the long-awaited 10-part documentary” The Last Dance “about Michael Jordan and the Bulls dynasty.

And he of course observed all the reactions on social networks to his friend Sabrina Ionescu who was selected first in the general classification of the WNBA draft Friday evening by Liberty.

“I was hyped for her. She will love New York, “said Barrett. “It is perfect for this city. “

Barrett says it will be cool to hit restaurants and explore the Big Apple with Ionescu when everything comes back to life.

“What I really want is to go to a game,” he said. “Maybe she can hook me up. “

As for his Knicks colleagues, he is still in touch.

“I talk to my teammates and we try to register. Especially with New York staff. Everyone seems to be fine and trying to see how we can help you. We all really miss playing basketball. “

This fight gave Barrett a new perspective. ” Life is short. It taught me to be thankful. Be thankful for each moment you spend with your family. I am fortunate that we are safe and healthy and together. “


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