As professional sports pick up, players face tough decisions. The biggest? Risk physical and mental health and social injustices to play during a shortened season, or sit down and forgo all or part of their pay.
For WNBA players, Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets helps make that choice a little easier.
Along with WNBA athletes Natasha Cloud and Jewell Loyd, Irving kicked off the KAI Empowerment Initiative, a $ 1.5 million fund that will supplement the income of players who choose not to play this season. The fund will support players whether they are absent due to coronavirus or social justice issues.
Irving, Cloud, and Loyd connected with several players to hear their challenges. The season, which began July 25, will be played at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
“Whether a person decides to fight for social justice, play basketball, focus on physical or mental health, or just connect with their family, this initiative can hopefully support their families. priorities and decisions, ”Irving said in a statement.
WNBA salaries are much lower than their NBA counterparts. DeWanna Bonner, the highest earner from last season, earned $ 127,000. In contrast, Stephen Curry’s 2019-20 salary is $ 40.2 million.
Players should, however, provide an overview of their reasons for being away. They cannot receive additional salary support and any medical absence must be linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. Athletes will learn by August 14 if they will receive financial support.
Irving is not with the Nets for the NBA restart due to shoulder surgery. However, he continued to vigorously support social reform, including a recent television special calling for action in the death of Breonna Taylor.
There is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the return of the sport, of course. Hopefully this fund will help bring some clarity to some WNBA athletes.