Whether you think he’s a disruptor, outspoken, or whatever adjective you can come up with, Kyrie Irving continues to put action behind his words.
Following his #SayHerName special, the Nets guard formed the KAI Empowerment Initiative to help fund WNBA players that have opted out of the 2020 season. Today, Irving –who signed a $142 million deal with Brooklyn last offseason– pledged $1.5 million players that have declined to not join “The Wubble.”
“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,” said Irving. “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.”
The All-Star guard teamed up with WNBA stars like the Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud and Seattle Storm guard Jewell Loyd to formed the initiative that will also teach financial literacy.
Along with Cloud, other stars that chose to sit out are Tina Charles, Asia Durr, Chiney Ogwumike, Kristi Tolliver, and Liz Cambage.
“There’s a lot of factors that led to this decision,” Cloud said on Instagram when decided to opt-out. “But the biggest being that I am more than an athlete. I have a responsibility to myself, to my community, and to my future children to fight for something that is much bigger than myself and the game of basketball. I will instead, continue the fight on the front lines for social reform, because until black lives matter, all lives can’t matter.”
The WNBA season kicked off this past weekend at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL. Players went out and garnered their highest viewed opener since 2012. Using their platform, the WNBA showed solidarity to Black Lives Matter by having Breonna Taylor’s name on the back of each player’s jersey and Say Her Name on their warmup shirts.
Oh, and you can cop that orange hoodie all your favorite WNBA, and NBA players have been rocking here.