Nneka Ogwumike, the 2012 No. 1 overall pick and 2016 WNBA MVP, announced she will leave the Los Angeles Sparks in free agency this winter after 12 seasons with the franchise. Ogwumike is an unrestricted free agent and has already taken meetings with the Atlanta Dream, Chicago Sky and Phoenix Mercury, according to Ramona Shelburne. She also intends to meet with the New York Liberty and Seattle Storm.
“I have SO much, so much love for the city that unconditionally embraced this Stanford kid 12 years ago,” Ogwumike wrote in a statement on social media. “So much pride in being only a small piece of the legacy that is Championchip City. So much pain and sweat with teammates, coaches, staff and ownership that gave life to what it really means to be SHOWTIME. So much gratitude for the fans and the people of LA that raised me. So much joy for what it means to be #30 in purple & gold. I have SO much because of the Los Angeles Sparks and even more for my heart to hold on in this season of change.
“LA, I hope it’s not good bye, but ‘see you later.'”
Sparks coach Curt Miller, who previously coached Nneka’s sister, Chiney Ogwumike, with the Connecticut Sun, also put out a statement on social media.
“An emotional “Thank You” to Nneka Ogwumike and the entire Ogwumike family, which has been such a big part of my WNBA career,” Miller wrote. “Carry so many memories with me.”
Though now 33 years old and entering her 13th season in the league, Ogwumike remains one of the best bigs in the world. She came in at No. 5 on CBS Sports’ list of this year’s best free agents, and, as Shelburne’s report indicates, still has plenty of suitors across the league.
Last season was the best the Ogwumike has looked since her MVP campaign. She averaged 19.1 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.7 steals on 51.2% shooting, and, along with Finals MVP A’ja Wilson, was one of two players to finish in the top 10 in scoring, rebounding, steals and field goal percentage.
WNBA free agency got underway on Jan. 21, when teams were allowed to start talking with players, but nothing can be made official until Feb. 1.