wnba players

photo credit: forbes.com

Kyrie Irving Creates Fund to Support WNBA Players

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Jul. 29 2020, Updated 5:33 p.m. ET

words by MacKenzie Murray

Brooklyn Nets point guard and basketball phenomenon Kyrie Irving commits $1.5 million to support WNBA players who opted out of the 2020 season. With the current climate amidst a global pandemic and social justice issues, Irving doesn’t want WNBA players to sweat their next paycheck by supplementing their salary.

The funds will come out of the KAI Empowerment Initiative launched by Irving last Monday and will also provide WNBA players with a financial literacy program created by UBS. The average salary for a WNBA player is $71,635 compared to their male counterparts in the NBA bringing in an average of $6.8 million. Both leagues are expected to participate in a full season of basketball.

“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.

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WNBA Players

photo credit: Forbes.com

Many players who have chosen to opt out of the season shared their story and reasons behind their decision. Notably, two-time MVP Elena Delle Donne was denied an exemption despite being high-risk for coronavirus due to Lyme disease forcing her to “either risk my life…or forfeit my paycheck,” as she wrote for the Players’ Tribune.

Natasha Cloud is one of many who decided to opt out of the season due to racial justice reasons saying 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.”

After the NBA made the call to continue with the 2020 season back in June, Irving said, “I don’t support going into Orlando,” and “I’m not with the systematic racism and the bulls–t.”

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