Kyrie Irving: NBA star launches fund and pledges $1.5m to support WNBA players

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving has pledged $1.5m (£1.16m) to support Women’s National Basketball Association players who have decided to opt out of the 2020 season.

A number of WNBA players have chosen not to play because of coronavirus concerns or social justice reform.

Players who are not granted a medical waiver will forfeit their wages if they decide not to play.

“This initiative can hopefully support their priorities and decisions,” Irving said.

Irving, 28, said he had set up the KAI Empowerment Initiative fund after talks with WNBA players Natasha Cloud and Jewell Loyd.

Washington Mystics star Cloud was one of the first players to opt out of the season for social justice reasons after the death of Breonna Taylor, a black woman killed by police in March.

WNBA players have dedicated the upcoming season to Taylor and observed a 26-second moment of silence before the season opener between New York Liberty and Seattle Storm on Saturday.

“I have connected with several WNBA players who have decided to play and those who have decided not to play,” added Irving.

“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.

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

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