Nets’ Kyrie Irving committing $1.5 million to help WNBA players who choose not to play this season
According to Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press, the Nets All-Star is donating $1.5 million to cover the lost income of players who choose to sit out the 2020 season, which tipped off on Saturday.
Kyrie Irving explained his decision:
“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.
The money will come from the newly launched KAI Empowerment Initiative and will offer a financial literacy program created by UBS.
The top annual salary in the WNBA is just over $200,000.
A large number of notable WNBA players are sitting out this season for a variety of reasons. On the defending champion Washington Mystics alone, guard Natasha Cloud is prioritizing social justice advocacy, center LaToya Sanders opted out for health reasons, and Tina Charles is absent, too. Star Elena Delle Donne is also on track not to play due to her own health concerns.
Minnesota Lynx All-Star and new mom Odyssey Sims is out (for now), while the Atlanta Dream’s Renee Montgomery is sitting out to focus on social justice issues, among others.
Irving said that Cloud and Jewell Loyd of the Seattle Storm helped him connect with WNBA players to talk about their decisions on whether to play.
To qualify for Kyrie Irving’s initiative, players must expound on their decision not to play and cannot be receiving salary from another entity. If a player opts out for medical reasons, it must be tied to COVID-19.
This is a wonderful gesture by the Nets star, and it’s great to see him take action even though he’s not playing right now.