Kyrie Irving is making sure WNBA players can sit out the season and not stress about a paycheck.
The Brooklyn Nets star is committing $1.5 million to supplement the income of players who choose not to play this season, whether it be because of coronavirus concerns or social justice reasons.
The funds will come from the KAI Empowerment Initiative that Irving launched Monday. It will also provide players with a financial literacy program created by UBS.
Irving said that with the help of WNBA players Natasha Cloud — who chose to sit out — and Jewell Loyd, he connected with several WNBA players who discussed with him the challenges they faced in deciding whether to play. The season began Saturday and will be played entirely at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
He decided to help with the financial burden in a league where the top annual salary is a little more than $200,000.
“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.
To be eligible, players must provide insight into the circumstances surrounding their decision and not be receiving salary support from any other entity. An opt-out for medical reasons must be connected to the coronavirus pandemic.