WNBA players Maya Moore, left, and Lindsay Whalen. (Photo: Bloomberg) WNBA players Maya Moore, left, and Lindsay Whalen. (Photo: Bloomberg)

WNBA players who choose to sit out this season due to the coronavirus pandemic have been given a $1.5 million financial lifeline from six-time NBA all-star Kyrie Andrew Irving.

The NBA champ and Olympic gold medalist, collaborating with the Peak Wealth Management Group at UBS, has launched the KAI Empowerment Initiative, which will provide funds directly to each player who meets the qualifications of the program.

In conversations with WNBA players, “I have learned about the challenges and opportunities of their decisions and how it will impact their lives, family, and overall well being,” said Irving in a statement.

“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,” the Brookly Nets’ point guard explained. “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.”

In addition to funding, this initiative will give all WNBA players access to a comprehensive financial literacy program created by UBS.

To expand beyond the initial investment, the KAI Empowerment Initiative is collaborating with UBS and its Own Your Worth program, which “shares the belief that it’s important to provide financial resources to all women and to support gender-equal opportunities to secure their financial future,” said UBS advisor Antwyne Delonde in a statement.

Last year, Irving signed a four-year $141 million deal with the Nets, giving him an average salary of roughly $34 million. Across the league, the average NBA player had a salary of $7.7 million for the season ending earlier this year.

In contrast, average pay for a WNBA player was $116,000 in 2019. A new agreement reached in January increased the base salary to $130,000, raising total compensation by 53% via bonuses and prize pools, according to the WNBA. Some top players may earn over $500,000 a year in cash.

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