The WNBA is back, but many of its players aren’t excited about the season’s return amidst coronavirus and social justice concerns.
While some have chosen to opt-out of the season by taking a public stance against issues facing our country currently, they’re now faced with the reality of not receiving their full salaries for the year.
To combat this, Brooklyn Nets player Kyrie Irving has stepped up to offer a helping hand to his female counterparts in the basketball world by offering them financial support in the form of a $1.5 million supplement fund, ESPN reports.
Kyrie is giving $1.5M to supplement income of WNBA players missing their season
The initiative will cover players whether they’re sitting because of coronavirus concerns or social justice reasons pic.twitter.com/nlb64AJmDC
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 27, 2020
According to ESPN, Irving said he has recruited the help of WNBA players Natasha Cloud and Jewell Loyd to connect with several other WNBA players to discuss the challenges they face in deciding whether or not to play this season.
Cloud recently spoke out about her decision to opt-out of the season sharing 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.”
ESPN reports that the funds for this plan will come from the KAI Empowerment Initiative that Irving launched today and also provide players with a financial literacy program created by UBS.
“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 regarding his fund reported by NBA.com.
To qualify for the initiative, Clutch Points states that “players must expound on their decision not to play and cannot be receiving a salary from another entity. If a player opts out for medical reasons, it must be tied to COVID-19.”
Players must apply for the fund by Aug. 11, and recipients will be notified no later than Aug. 24.
Irving has publicly stated that he doesn’t support the NBA restart in Orlando, according to Bleacher Report, and shared “I’m not with the systematic racism and the bulls–t.”
He’s always been vocal in his support of fighting against racial injustice and recently announced that he helped produce a TV special calling for justice for the murder of Breonna Taylor, BET reports.
The hope for this fund is to show solidarity in sports and support one another through difficult times. Irving’s initiative could be a driving force in swaying the WNBA’s decision to pay players who have chosen to opt-out.