Nneka Ogwumike truly belongs in the W25

September 7, 2021, 3:40 PM ● Charmie Lising

There's just no denying that Nneka Ogwumike, given everything she has accomplished in her career so far, deserves to be on the WNBA's list of 25 greatest players.

Nneka Ogwumike of the Los Angeles Sparks banners the 10 active players named to the list of 25 greatest and most influential players in the WNBA’s 25-year history.

The 2016 WNBA champion and MVP is the only player on the prestigious “W25” list who met all seven criteria set by the league. 

“I am so grateful to have my name listed amongst past and present legends who’ve pioneered the W over these amazing 25 years,” said Ogwumike. “As an athlete on the court, I’m proud of my career and hope to continue to leave a legacy of greatness.”

Ogwumike has made the All-WNBA and All-Defensive teams five times in her career. The 2012 Rookie of the Year also won the Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award twice.

Among the members of the “W25”, Ogwumike is the only recipient of the WNBA Community Assist Award, which honors players who make a difference in their communities. She earned the award in 2018 for her efforts in promoting female empowerment, health and wellness, diversity and inclusion, and education.

Ogwumike’s impact on the league’s advancement in the last few years is incomparable.

As president of the WNBA Players Association (WNBPA) since 2016, Ogwumike has been on top of the negotiations for the eight-year Collective Bargaining Agreement that commenced in 2020. It was a landmark deal that featured significant increases to cash compensation and benefits, enhanced player experience in terms of travel standards and child care, maternity, and family planning benefits, and expanded career development opportunities.

Ogwumike also helped make the 2020 WNBA bubble planning successful and led the league in advocating for social justice throughout the season. 

“What I’ve been able to contribute to the game along with the phenomenal women of this league through generations is one of my greatest accomplishments. Being recognized for any impact I’ve made is a true honor,” said Ogwumike.

After being denied the chance to represent either the U.S. or Nigeria in the Tokyo Olympics, Ogwumike has returned to action for the Sparks. She missed a total of 14 games this season due to a knee injury that sidelined her for two months.

Upon her return, she immediately propelled her team to a four-game streak. The Sparks, however, have suffered five straight losses since then. They currently have a 10-18 record, two games behind the Dallas Wings and half a game behind the New York Liberty and Washington Mystics, all of which are fighting for the last two available playoff spots.

Ogwumike is currently averaging 14.2 points on 54.1 percent shooting from the field, along with 5.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 14 games. She surpassed the 4,500-point scoring mark last week, becoming only the 28th WNBA player to reach the milestone.

Voted on by a panel of media, coaches, and women’s basketball pioneers and advocates, a total of 72 nominees–who all met at least four of the following seven requirements–were considered in the “W25” list:

  • Winner of a major individual award; 

  • A selection to either the All-WNBA First Team or All-WNBA Second Team; 

  • A selection to either the WNBA All-Defensive First Team or WNBA All-Defensive Second Team; 

  • A selection to the WNBA All-Star Game; 

  • A member of a WNBA Championship team; 

  • A current ranking among the top 40 career leaders in at least one major statistical category; 

  • And/or a recipient of the WNBA’s season-long Community Assist Award.

Other current players part of the “W25” are Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm), Tina Charles and Elena Delle Donne (Washington Mystics), Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota Lynx), Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury), Angel McCoughtry (Las Vegas Aces), and Candace Parker (Chicago Sky).