The Los Angeles Sparks announced today that forward/center Chiney Ogwumike will opt out of the 2020 WNBA season for medical reasons.
“If you know me, you know that I have overcome some of the biggest challenges an athlete can face on the court,” Ogwumike said. “My previous injuries have given me strength and built character, but unfortunately they require me to be careful with my preparation leading up to a season. This year is unprecedented in many ways, therefore my team and I have come to the decision to be proactively cautious and put my body first.”
“I am so lucky to have an organization that believes in me and supports me as a player and as a person,” Ogwumike added. “I fully believe this team will win a championship this year and I will be rooting for them every step along the way. As much as I want to compete and win with my sister, I know it is best for me to sit this one out. I will continue to use all my platforms to elevate and empower my teammates and fellow players in the WNBA as we continue to fight for our communities. This isn’t goodbye, it’s just see you later.”
The Sparks traded for Chiney Ogwumike prior to the 2019 season. Ogwumike was drafted No. 1 overall in 2014 by the Connecticut Sun and is a two-time All-Star. She missed the 2015 and 2017 seasons with injuries.
“The health and safety of our players and staff is the number one priority for our organization,” Managing Partner and Governor Eric Holoman said. “We completely stand behind Chiney’s decision to prioritize her health and continue the work she’s doing to fight for systemic change.”
Ogwumike has been a national voice in the fight for equality and social justice. She recently joined the LeBron James-led #MoreThanAVote campaign to combat voter suppression. She is also a full-time NBA analyst with ESPN.
“Chiney is an integral part of our team and we will certainly miss her presence this season,” Head Coach Derek Fisher said. “We respect her decision and look forward to watching her continue to effect change in the community.”
ABOUT THE LOS ANGELES SPARKS
Founded in 1996, the Los Angeles Sparks are one of three original franchises in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and the only professional women’s sports team in California. The Sparks have won three WNBA Championships (2001, 2002, 2016), have qualified for the playoffs in 19 of their 23 seasons and remain the only active team in the league to win back-to-back titles. The Los Angeles Sparks are dedicated to ensuring each home game at Staples Center has a championship level entertainment experience while showcasing the best female athletes from around the world on the court.