Earlier this week, Nets guard, Kryie Irving made headlines when it was announced that he would be donating $1.5 million through the KAI Empowerment Initiative to help supplement the WNBA players, who decided not to play due to concerns of the COVID-19 or taking a stand for social justice reform.
The fund was created to help provide players the opportunity to learn about financial literature.
“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.
Something that Irving consulted with numerous WNBA players, such as, Washington Mystics guard, Natasha Cloud, who elected to sit out this season, Seattle and Storm guard, Jewell Lloyd.
On Tuesday night, after the Seattle Storm defeated the Minnesota Lynx 90 to 66, future Hall of Famer, Sue Bird stated that Irving’s gesture was ‘admirable.’
“Yeah, I think Kyrie [Irving] is the kind of guy, he sees outside himself a lot of the time, extremely unselfish, and this is just another example of that. Obviously, everyone sees the big number, you know $1.5 million, and they can get caught up in that,” said Bird.
“To me, what I love about it is the opportunity that all of us, as WNBA players, will have, if we want is to take courses in financial literacy. And that goes beyond just the one-time offering. It goes well beyond that, and I think what he is trying to do is support women, and support the WNBA. Not just now, but long term, and it is admirable.”
Phoenix Mercury’s center Brittney Griner also spoke about Irving’s gesture on Wednesday evening, after the Mercury fell to the Indiana Fever 106 to 100.
“I think it is amazing that he did that. I think it’s great honestly and maybe we can get a couple more of them to do it all year around every year, so we can get a little extra on our salaries too,” said Griner.
Griner has been very outspoke about their salaries in the past and has even said that if she wasn’t playing for Phoenix she wouldn’t be playing the WNBA a couple of years back.
“We should get paid more I don’t know where it is supposed to come from that is not my job. That is somebody else’s job, but we should definitely get paid more there is no reason why we should have to go overseas to make a living… All we hear is that it is going to get better and we are working on it… So, what is happening? Because we do not see it in our paychecks.” Said Griner.
“And honestly, if I weren’t with the Phoenix Mercury, I would not be playing right now in the WNBA for What? Why? You do your job to make money to support you. This is not doing anything overseas is. So, I am not going to put that forever!”
This past offseason, the WNBA and agree to a new CBA contract.
“Foremost among the deal terms is a 53 percent increase in total cash compensation, consisting of base salary, additional performance bonuses, prize pools for newly created in-season competitions, and league and team marketing deals. Under the new CBA, the league’s top players will be able to earn cash compensation in excess of $500,000, representing a more than tripling of the maximum compensation under the prior deal, according to WNBA.com.”
“Other top players will have an opportunity to earn between $200,000 and $300,000. And for the first time in WNBA history, the average cash compensation for players will exceed six figures, averaging nearly $130,000, resulting in an increase for all players from rookies to veterans.”
On Tuesday night, former NBA center Shaquille O’neal on TNT’s NBA on TNT, share that WNBA player need to be paid, and he was tired of hearing the league is losing money. Allocate the resources to make sure they are taken care of, and write off loses like any other business expense.