Sparks re-sign Nneka Ogwumike, their ‘top free agency priority’

LOS ANGELES — Seven-time All-Star and 2016 WNBA MVP Nneka Ogwumike has re-signed with the Sparks, the team announced Friday.

The 6-foot-2 forward, who was an unrestricted free agent, returns for her 12th season in the league, all in Los Angeles after the Sparks drafted her No. 1 overall in 2012.

“I started in Los Angeles as a wide-eyed rookie hopeful to last and to lead in a city and with a franchise defined by its legends and legacy,” said Ogwumike said via a press release. “Over the last 11 years, with champions and with challenges, my veteran vision remains clear and committed to what it truly means to play in this league, in THIS city, for 12 seasons, repping that iconic purple & gold.”

Ogwumike, 32, also serves as president of the WNBPA, representing the league’s 144 players in contract negotiations, grievances, and social actions.

The Sparks front office and coaching staff were steadfast in their pursuit of re-signing Ogwumike, which came two days after her younger sister Chiney re-signed with the Sparks.

“Re-signing Nneka was the top priority of 2023 free agency for the Los Angeles Sparks,” Sparks CAO & GM Karen Bryant said in the team’s statement. “Nneka is deeply ingrained in the rich history of the Sparks and is both an elite basketball player and a trailblazer for our league and beyond. We’re thrilled to continue our partnership with her as she continues adding to her storied legacy.”

“Nneka is an extraordinary person and teammate,” Sparks head coach Curt Miller added. “Not only is she a top-level leader for the Sparks, but she is a leader for the entire league. Her work ethic and dedication to her craft is exceptional. She’s coming off another All-WNBA season and continues to add levels to her game. I couldn’t be more excited to coach Nneka.”

The former WNBA Rookie of the Year was a key member of the Sparks’ 2016 WNBA championship team. Since winning that title, she has remained one of the most efficient players in the league.

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Last season, Ogwumike started and played in 34 of 36 games, averaging 18.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.6 steals in 34.1 minutes per game.

Ogwumike also cemented her legacy in Los Angeles last season by eclipsing 5,000 career points, joining Sparks legends Lisa Leslie and Candace Parker as the only players in franchise history to do so. She was also named to the ‘The W25’, recognizing her as one of the 25 greatest players to ever play in the league.

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