Sparks re-signs star forward Nneka Ogwumike

When she left the Arena after last year sparksAfter the last game, Nneka Ogwumike left local journalists with cheerful parting words.

“See you next season.”

The former MVP made the announcement Friday as he re-signed with the Sparks as an unrestricted free agent. Ogwumike will return to the franchise for a 12th season, hoping to help the organization rekindle its success after two consecutive losing seasons.

“I started out in Los Angeles as a wide-eyed rookie hoping to last and become a leader in the city and with a franchise based on its legends and legacy,” Ogwumike said in a statement. “Over the past 11 years, with champions and challenges, my veteran vision remains clear and committed to what it truly means to play in this league, in THIS city, for 12 seasons representing this iconic purple and gold.”

Last season, Ogwumike averaged 18.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.6 steals to earn an All-WNBA Second Team title and his seventh All-Star appearance. Every season she has shot more than 51% from the field, including last year’s clip with 54.4%.

However, the Sparks missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons as Ogwumike lost longtime co-star Candice Parker. Bye Parker went to Chicago as a free agent in 2021, won the title with her hometown team, and thensigned with Las Vegas Aces this year, Ogwumike was a constant presence during the Sparks’ recent fight.

Before the 2016 MVP officially re-signed with the team on Friday, Sparks executives spoke publicly about her return and her role in rebuilding the franchise. First year general manager Karen Bryant Ogwumike’s return was “a top free agency priority in 2023” for the team, the statement said.

“Nneka is an extraordinary person and teammate” head coach Kurt Miller says in the statement. “She is not only the top-level leader of the Sparks, but the leader of the entire league. Her work ethic and dedication to her work is exceptional.”

She will be joined by Ogwumike, who is also the president of the WNBA players’ union. China’s younger sisterformer Las Vegas Aces Dearik Hamby forward and Azura Stevens in a converted front area for the Sparks.