As Kyrie Irving returns, Nets owners Joe and Clara Tsai plan to continue their capital collaboration


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With Kyrie Irving set to debut in the 2021-22 season, brooklyn nets and New York Liberty owners Joe Tsai and Clara Wu Tsai eagerly await the star point guard to join the field team.

“I’m glad we were able to make a decision together,” Clara told ESPN of Irving’s return as a part-time player; New York City’s immunization mandate prevents him from playing in home games. “I am delighted to see him bring his artistry back to the field.”

The Nets and Irving had been apart since October 12, but that didn’t stop Clara and Irving from texting. The two have bonded over the past two years through their passion for equality.

As one of four majority owners of color in the NBA, Joe and Clara have been active with NBA and WNBA players in raising awareness and advancing social justice, race and gender issues. .

“Joe and Clara have played leadership roles in advocating for social justice,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told ESPN. “Through their family foundation, the REFORM Alliance and other efforts, they have dedicated themselves to fighting discrimination of all kinds. The work they do locally through their Social Justice Fund will go a long way in strengthening the economic empowerment of communities of color in Brooklyn. “

Clara has advocated for criminal justice reform as a board member with artists Jay-Z and Meek Mill and Philadelphia 76ers Michael Rubin, co-owner of the REFORM Alliance, while Joe helped establish the Asian American Foundation (TAAF) to fight discrimination and prejudice.

“It’s wonderful that there is a convergence between my personal ambition to work for equity, racial and social justice and the collective desire of minority communities and some NBA athletes to achieve the same result,” Clara said. “As stewards of the NBA and WNBA teams, our megaphone for calling attention to issues is powerful, and it is our responsibility to highlight injustices and help create momentum for change.”

After the murder of George Floyd and the shooting of Jacob Blake in 2020, NBA and WNBA players have spoken out against police brutality and racial inequality. Many players wanted to see the league and its team owners support them and join the fight.

“I can only speak for myself, [but players] want authenticity “, New Orleans Pelicans goaltender and vice-president of the National Basketball Players Association Garret Temple told ESPN. “If our values ​​are aligned…

“I have had many conversations with Clara,” Temple said. “She came to me for advice on the best ways to tackle certain problems.”

Joe and Clara, who took a controlling stake in the Nets in August 2019, donated $ 50 million in 2020 through their foundation to launch the Social Justice Fund, which aims to help communities of color in the neighborhood of Brooklyn.

The Tsais are one of 30 NBA Boards of Governors providing $ 300 million in seed funding to the NBA Foundation to generate economic opportunity in the black community.

Like many black gamers who are passionate about Black Lives Matter, Joe’s personal experience as a person of color in the United States has shaped his involvement in the Stop Asian Hate movement. He is co-founder of the Alibaba group and executive vice president of the company. He moved from Taiwan to New Jersey for his studies at the age of 13.

In April 2020, Joe was out for an afternoon jog outside of San Diego where he noticed a gray van had pulled up about 20 feet in front of him. He saw a Caucasian driver and a Caucasian female passenger both looking at him in the side mirrors and mirrors.

Joe, 57, had “never felt physically threatened” in the United States until then. With the spread of the coronavirus across the country, discrimination against Asians was increasing. Asians were blamed for the virus.

“Should I just come by and pretend nothing happened?” Joe told ESPN. “What’s the worst that could happen?” He might yell at me. Maybe he’ll spit on me out the window. Then I thought, “Wait a minute, is this a country where people are allowed to carry guns and try to attack me?”

Joe turned around and ran home. The truck didn’t follow, but the Nets owner couldn’t shake the sentiment.

Inspired to do something, Joe helped start TAAF, formed to provide the infrastructure necessary to defend Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Joe and other board members also contributed $ 125 million to support the AAPI community.

In a show of support, Portland’s Damien lillard wore a “Stop Asian Hate” shirt during a game last March. Hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders increased 73% in 2020 according to the fbi. Between March 2020 and September 2021, 10,370 incidents against Asians were reported to Stop AAPI Hate, a coalition launched to track and respond to incidents against Asians and Pacific Islanders.

“All anti-Asian hateful feelings were a direct result of [former President Donald] Trump called COVID “the Wuhan virus,” “the Chinese virus,” Joe said. “… And 23 million Asian Americans suffered from it. You don’t even have to be Chinese. It can be Korean, Thai, Filipino, Japanese, you get attacked, and especially people. old. It’s just excruciating. So we have to do something about it. “

Clara has spent the past few years helping players on issues such as election laws and criminal justice. She hosted a screening of “Just Mercy” with Bryan Stevenson – the lawyer and social justice activist depicted in the film – for the Nets in 2019, which inspired Temple to pursue law school and Irving to have more. dialogue with Clara.

“Clara is one of the smartest, most strategic executives I’ve met,” Mill told ESPN. “When it comes to fighting for criminal justice reform, she’s not afraid to ask tough questions – to solve even tougher problems. Her leadership inspires me.”

As an Asian American and owner of the NBA, Clara understands her impact in the male-dominated world of sport.

“I hope my presence will reshape the way women in sport are viewed,” said Clara, who is increasingly involved with Liberty. “And, as a result, reshaping the way women and girls see themselves.”

As Irving nears his return to court, Clara will continue her conversations about gender equality with the vice president of the NBPA.

“He’s a real supporter of the WNBA,” said Clara, “because he also funded the salaries of the women who lost him because they didn’t go into the bubble. We talked about it a lot.”

Clara said she and Irving will continue to fight for change with the athletes even if he returns to the field.

“We are stronger together,” she said.

ESPN’s Andrew Lopez contributed to this report.

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