Kyrie Irving commits $1.5 million to help WNBA players who opted out of 2020 season

Kyrie Irving commits $1.5 million to help WNBA players who opted out of 2020 season

Kyrie Irving is helping some of his fellow pro basketball players during this difficult time.

The Brooklyn Nets point guard is committing $1.5 million for WNBA players who chose to opt out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns or the fight for social justice.

According to Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press, "The funds will come from the KAI Empowerment Initiative that Irving launched Monday. It will also provide players with a financial literacy program created by UBS."

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The new WNBA season began Saturday. Similar to the NBA, the WNBA is playing its games without fans inside of a bubble in Florida (IMG Academy in Bradenton). 

Irving has been vocal in helping/urging players to use their voice and platform to bring about real change in the battle against racial injustice following George Floyd's death in Minneapolis in May. The former Boston Celtics star also has been very generous in helping people affected by the pandemic, including a $323,000 donation to Feeding America in March to help provide meals for those in need.

The Nets are one of the 22 teams in the Orlando bubble taking part in the NBA's 2019-20 season restart. Irving did not join the team because he's rehabbing from shoulder surgery he had earlier this year.

Irving signed with the Nets as a free agent last summer after spending two seasons with the Celtics. The veteran point guard averaged a career-high 27.4 points with 6.4 assists and 5.2 rebounds in 20 games for the Nets during the 2019-20 campaign.

Cam Newton joins fascinating list of No. 1 draft picks to play in Boston

Cam Newton joins fascinating list of No. 1 draft picks to play in Boston

Assuming Cam Newton suits up and plays for the Patriots, he'll become the team's fourth quarterback drafted number one overall, three of them Heisman Trophy winners.

Each of New England's five major teams have had multiple number one picks over the years, though most of them arrived later in their careers.

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The Red Sox, for instance, have never owned the top overall draft pick, while the last time the Celtics actually made a pick at No. 1 was in 1950, when they drafted Chuck Share with the first pick in the first NBA Draft... and then he never played a single game as a Celtic.

So here's a look at the number one picks who have played for the Patriots, Celtics, Red Sox, Bruins, and Revs, presented in order of when they made their Boston/New England debuts. (No, we're not counting Anthony Bennett playing for the Red Claws in 2017-18.)

Click here for the gallery.

Celtics' recent success largely built around talent from 2011 NBA Draft

Celtics' recent success largely built around talent from 2011 NBA Draft

There were 24 selections made during the 2011 NBA draft before the Boston Celtics were on the clock. 

That pick, MarShon Brooks, was traded so the Celtics could go back two spots and get JaJuan Johnson, whose time in Boston lasted just one season. 

But that draft — which took place nine years ago on this day — has in time helped define and shape this Boston Celtics franchise in ways few would have envisioned. 

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Widely considered one of the stronger drafts during the 2010s, Boston’s success in the Post Big-3 era (Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen) of the late 2000s was heavily influenced by Danny Ainge’s ability to orchestrate a slew of deals that often found the Celtics roster bolstered by a player from the 2011 draft class.

And most of those players arguably played their best basketball while a member of the Green Team.

Let’s take a look back at how they got to Boston, what they did during their time here, a memorable moment and where they are now. 

KYRIE IRVING

Draft position: No. 1 overall

How acquired: In 2017, Irving was acquired via trade from Cleveland in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, a 2018 first-round pick (Collin Sexton) and a 2020 second-round pick from Miami.

Stats in Boston: 24.1 points; 6.1 assists; .404 three-point percentage; .489 field goal percentage

Memorable moment: There’s plenty of material here, but the moment that most defined Kyrie’s time in Boston wasn’t in a game. It was during an open practice for Celtics fans during the preseason in 2018 when Irving told those in attendance that he planned to re-sign with the Celtics, “if you guys will have me back.” The good vibes from that didn’t last long. As the season wore on, Irving’s desire to remain a Celtic steadily declined before Boston’s season ended with a second-round “gentleman's sweep” at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks.

Where are they now: Irving signed with the Brooklyn Nets in the summer of 2019.

ENES KANTER

Draft position: No. 3 overall

How acquired: In 2019, Kanter signed a two-year, $10 million deal with Boston.

Stats in Boston: 8.2 points; 7.7 rebounds; 1.0 assists; .566 field goal percentage

Memorable moment: For Kanter, playing on Christmas Day last year in Toronto was a huge deal. It wasn’t the date as much as it was the game being played outside of the United States. Kanter has avoided playing outside of the United States for fear of being arrested by Turkish officials who had issued an arrest warrant along with revoking his passport following his outspoken views towards the Turkish government. The Celtics won the game, which for Kanter felt like a victory regardless of the outcome.

“Coming here and stepping outside (of the United States) for the first time in years … definitely more than a game to me,” Kanter said at the time. “It’s a blessing for me to play on Christmas Day. It feels good to be out, feels good to be free, just enjoying this time. It’s amazing.”

Where are they now: Key rotation player on the Celtics roster. 

KEMBA WALKER

Draft position: No. 9 overall

How acquired: In 2019, Walker signed a four-year, $141 million deal with Boston.

Stats in Boston: 21.2 points; 4.1 rebounds; 4.9 assists; .421 field goal percentage; .377 three-point percentage

Memorable moment: Walker made eight 3’s and finished with 29 points in Boston’s 116-106 win over Dallas on Nov. 9. It was Boston’s eighth straight win to start the season. To put that in perspective, Walker never won more than seven in a row during his eight seasons in Charlotte.

Where are they now: The second-leading scorer on the Celtics roster.

MARCUS MORRIS

Draft position: No. 14 overall

How acquired: In 2017, Morris was acquired via trade from Detroit in exchange for Avery Bradley.

Stats in Boston: 13.8 points; 5.8 rebounds; 1.4 assists; .439 field goal percentage; .372 three-point percentage

Memorable moment: Trailing 97-99 with 7.7 seconds to play against the Oklahoma City Thunder on March 20, 2018, Morris drained the go-ahead 3-pointer with 1.2 seconds to play that lifted the Celtics to a 100-99 win. He would later reveal that he had added motivation to drill a game-winner over Paul George and the Thunder. 

Where are they now: Part of the rotation with the Los Angeles Clippers.

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JAJUAN JOHNSON

Draft position: No. 27 overall

How acquired: In 2011, the Celtics swapped the No. 25 pick (MarShon Brooks) with Brooklyn for No. 27 and a future second-round pick.

Stats in Boston: 3.2 points, 1.6 rebounds while shooting 44.6 percent from the field

Memorable moment: Johnson scored 12 points on 6-for-13 shooting in a four-point win over the Chicago Bulls on Feb. 12, 2012. 

Where are they now: He spent this past season playing for Bahçeşehir Koleji of the Turkish Basketbol Süper Ligi (BSL). 

E'TWAUN MOORE

Draft position: No. 55 overall

How acquired: Selected by Boston with the 55th overall selection in 2011.

Stats in Boston: 2.9 points; 0.9 rebounds; 0.9 assists; .381 field goal percentage; .378 three-point percentage

Memorable moment: Moore scored 16 points on 5-for-6 shooting, including making all four of his 3-point attempts, in an eight-point Celtics win over Orlando in 2012. 

Where are they now: Moore currently plays for the New Orleans Pelicans. 

ISAIAH THOMAS

Draft position: No. 60 overall

How acquired: In 2015, Thomas was acquired via trade from the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Marcus Thornton and a 2016 first-round pick from Cleveland.

Stats in Boston: 24.7 points; 6.0 assists; 2.7 rebounds; .443 field goal percentage; .381 three-point percentage

Memorable moment: Thomas scored 53 points in a playoff game against Washington shortly after his sister Chyna Thomas was killed in a car accident on the eve of what would have been her 23rd birthday.

Where are they now: Thomas is currently an NBA free agent after being waived by the Los Angeles Clippers earlier this season.