Kyrie Irving Commits $1.5m for WNBA Players Who Opted Out of 2020 Season

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Feb 1, 2020; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) during the second half against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena.

According to Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press, Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving has committed $1.5 million to help support WNBA players who have chosen not to participate in their 2020 season. Irving aims to supplement the income for those not playing due to social justice reasons or matters related to COVID-19.

Whether a person decided to fight for social justice, play basketball, focus on physical or mental health, or simply connect with their families, this initiative can hopefully support their priorities and decisions,” Irving said in a statement.

The KAI Empowerment Initiative will administer the donation that Irving debuted Monday. It will also focus on educating players financially, as UBS has created a financial literacy program specifically for Irving’s foundation.

Working With the WNBA

Natasha Cloud and Jewell Loyd connected Irving with other WNBA players to discuss the difficulties that go along with playing. Cloud’s indignation over the recent racial injustices prompted her to sit out the season, as she explained in a statement:

There are a lot of factors that led to this decision, but the biggest one is that I am more than an athlete. I have a responsibility to myself, to my community and to my future children to fight for something that is much bigger than myself and the game of basketball. I will instead continue the fight for social reform, because until Black lives matter, all lives can’t matter.”

Players must apply to the KAI Empowerment Initiative by August 11th. Eligible applicants cannot be acquiring money from any outside parties, and must explicitly state the reason for their opt-out. Sitting out due to medical ailments is only permissible if related to the coronavirus.

Kyrie Irving is currently recovering from shoulder surgery and is not with the Nets in Orlando. Throughout recent weeks, he has been outspoken in his call for racial equality. Irving stated that restarting the NBA season distracts from the Black Lives Matter movement. The Nets guard also put together a TV special demanding justice for the death of Breonna Taylor.

The WNBA season kicked-off last Saturday and is being held at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.

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