NBA

Kyrie Irving creates $1.5 million fund to cover WNBA salaries of players who choose to opt out of 2020 season

Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving is lending a helping hand, making sure WNBA players can sit out the season and not have to worry about missing out on their salaries.

Irving has committed $1.5 million to assist WNBA players who choose to sit out the 2020 season, whether it be for coronavirus or social justice concerns.

The money will come from the KAI Empowerment Initiative that Irving launched Tuesday (IST), which will also provide players with a financial literacy program in partnership with 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.

To qualify for the program, players must provide reasoning for opting out and not be receiving financial assistance from any other institution. Medical opt-outs must be related to coronavirus.

Irving added that conversations with WNBA players Natasha Cloud - who is sitting out - and Jewell Lloyd, helped connect him with other WNBA players who discussed the challenges they face this season.

In a league where the highest salary is just over $200,000, Irving's gesture will go a long way to assist players in need.

"In these conversations, I have learned about the challenges and opportunities of their decisions and how it will impact their lives, family, and overall wellbeing," Irving said.

"This platform was created to provide support for all WNBA players in hopes to relieve some of the financial strain imposed during these challenging times.

Reigning league MVP Elena Delle Donne had her request to opt-out denied, despite her chronic Lyme disease, which her doctor said put her at high risk to develop complications from coronavirus.

The WNBA has taken the lead in pushing for social change, with players wearing the name of Breonna Taylor on the back of their jerseys. Taylor was killed by police officers in her home in Louisville in March 2020

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