#By BRENT STUBBS
#Senior Sports Reporter
#Bahamian Deandre Ayton, preparing to head to Orlando, Florida, for the Phoenix Suns’ completion of the National Basketball Association competition 2019/20 season, is lending his support to another charitable cause in Arizona.
#The Suns’ 6-foot, 11-inch centre will join Phoenix Mercury centre Brittney Griner, using the power of gaming and social media to raise money for COVID-19 relief and social justice.
#Ayton and Griner are two of 11 athletes joining forces with Facebook Gaming to livestream games exclusively on Facebook and their own Facebook pages using a Live Donate button to raise money for two of the most prominent causes in the United States and beyond.
#In a press release yesterday, said Evan Shugerman, head of Facebook athlete sports partnerships:
#“Athletes continue to be remarkable forces for good on social media and we’re excited for this particular group to use Facebook Gaming this summer to entertain fans and raise money for incredibly important causes.”
#Ayton and Griner are a part of nine other athletes who Facebook will be donating $20,000 to the charity of their choice.
#While Ayton’s choice will be NAACP Legal Defence and Education Fund, Griner’s is for Hunger: Not Impossible.
#The other nine are Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz), Julian Edelman (New England Patriots), Allie Long, (US Soccer/Reign FC), Alex Caruso (Los Angeles Lakers), Bogdan Bogdanovic (Sacramento Kings), JaVale McGee (Los Angeles Lakers), Josh Richardson (Philadelphia 76ers), Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls) and Tacko Fall (Boston Celtics).
#The 21-year-old Ayton, who was the No.1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft by the Suns and one of two Bahamians playing in the league, could not be reached for comments.
#He is scheduled to join the Suns in the NBA bubble at Wilt Disney in Orlando on July 31 when 22 teams compete for this year’s title. The other is Grand Bahamian shooting guard Chavano “Buddy” Hield of the Sacramento Kings, who is recuperating from the coronavirus. He too is expected to play in Orlando.
#The Suns are currently 13th in the Western Conference with a 26-39 win-loss record, and will have to play eight games through August 14 in order to earn a berth into the playoffs that will begin on August 17.
#While those games will be played without any fans, family and guests of teams will arrive on August 30 for the conference semi-finals set for August 31 to September 13.
#The Conference finals will be contested September 15-28.
#The NBA finals will then take place September 30 to October 13.
#Ayton, now known for his offensive stuffs and defensive swats, will get at least eight more games from the time he lost on the court during this past regular season under coach Monty Williams.
#He was suspended for 25 games without pay by the NBA on October 24 for violating the terms of the NBA/NBPA Anti-Doping Programme by testing positive for a diuretic. He returned to action December 17.
#Ayton, who had averaged 16.3 points and 10.3 rebounds in 30.7 minutes in 71 games as a rookie, pushed his numbers up to 19.0 points, 12.0 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, 1.9 assists and 0.7 steals per game in 32.3 minutes in the 30 games he played up to the break in the league in March.