Kyrie Irving pledges $1.5M for WNBA players who choose to sit out

Kyrie Irving at WNBA game
Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images

Kyrie Irving seemingly advocated for players to boycott the NBA’s resumption at Disney World.

He found few takers.

Though a handful players chose to sit out and all certainly considered multiple factors, none cited social justice as their primary reason.

That’s different in the WNBA. Several players are sitting out the season, including a few – Natasha Cloud, Renee Montgomery, Tiffany Hayes and Maya Moore – who specifically noted their commitment to pursuing social justice.

But unless getting a medical exemption due to high risk of severe symptoms with coronavirus or a previous injury, WNBA players who sit out won’t get paid.

That’s where Irving comes in.

Brian Mahoney of The New York Times:

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.

“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.

Players such as Cloud and Atlanta’s Renee Montgomery opted against playing for social reform reasons, though it’s unclear how many will qualify for Irving’s program.

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.

This is great.

Irving is philanthropic, and this specifically fits his vision of basketball players uniting together despite their disparate salaries.