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January 07, 2020

Sixers' Ben Simmons, Jonah Bolden partner with NBA players for $750k Australian bushfire donation

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23_Ben_Simmons_Sixers_FlyersvsKnights_KateFrese.jpg Kate Frese/for PhillyVoice

Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons.

The Sixers have been in the midst of an ugly funk as the calendar has turned to 2020, but their problems are pale in comparison to the devastation brought by the bushfires sweeping across Australia at the moment. A group of Australian players, including Philadelphia's Ben Simmons and Jonah Bolden, have stepped in to offer a small bit of relief for their country, committing to a $750,000 donation for relief and rebuilding efforts.

In a statement provided by the NBA Players Association, a group of nine players — Simmons, Bolden, Phoenix's Aron Baynes, Dallas' Ryan Broekhoff, Cleveland's Matthew Dellavedova and Dante Exum, Utah's Joe Ingles, Detroit's Thon Maker, and San Antonio's Patty Mills — conveyed their sadness over the destruction in their home country and pledged to continue providing support by any means necessary.

“We are heartbroken over the devastation these fires are causing all across our homeland,” expressed the players in a joint statement. “Our thoughts are with our families, friends and all of the people of Australia. We hope you feel our love and support and know that we will continue to bring awareness to this crisis globally and provide assistance in any way we can.”

A portion of the $750,000 will be donated to local and national community organizations and fire departments, including the Australian Red Cross, in order to help provide immediate relief and recovery. Other funds will be set aside for long-term rebuilding efforts as needs continue to evolve once the fires have actually stopped.

It is not entirely clear who is contributing what to the effort — the NBA and NBAPA contributed to the $750,000 donation, and both entities will continue to support the efforts of their players to aid and raise awareness for the ongoing relief and recovery efforts.

Since Ben Simmons addressed the situation on Instagram late last week, calling out for help from other Australian peers in the NBA, the situation in Australia has only grown worse.

The size of the bushfire devastation has been overwhelming even in comparison to other recent environmental disasters. In August of last year, a series of fires in the Amazon rainforest generated worldwide coverage and wiped out roughly 3,500 square miles of the environment. Estimates in Australia have suggested the bushfires have spread through over 24,000 square miles of bush, forests, and parks in Australia, or nearly 15.6 million acres of land.

The country is no stranger to vicious fires, unfortunately. Several bushfires that have wreaked havoc on the continent in the past are associated with ominous monikers, including "Black Saturday," a devastating event in the Victoria area in 2009 that would end up claiming the lives of 173 Australians.

As of this writing, 24 people, including three volunteer firefighters, have been confirmed dead, and some estimates have claimed half of a billion animals have died as a result of the fires.

In any case, Australia could use whatever help the rest of us are able to offer at the moment, even if you don't happen to have an extra $750,000 laying around.

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