It’s been a trying season for Nneka Ogwumike, who was left off the Olympic team due to an injury that cost her 14 games and is in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time in her WNBA career.
But Ogwumike still received an impressive honor over the weekend, as she was selected to the W25, a list of the 25 greatest players in 25 years of WNBA history, an exclusive group considering 1,004 players have suited up for at least one game, per Across The Timeline.
The W25 was compiled from a group of 72 nominees who played at least two WNBA seasons and met four or more of the following criteria: won a major individual award; selected to either the All-WNBA first or second team; selected to either the WNBA All-Defensive first or second team; selected to the WNBA All-Star Game; a member of a WNBA Championship team; currently ranked 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.
Ogwumike was the only player to meet all seven criteria, a deserving honoree on a decorated list. She was the 2016 MVP and WNBA champion that season, a five-time All-Star and WNBA In a statement released by the Los Angeles Sparks, Ogwumike expressed her gratitude for the recognition:
“I am so grateful to have my name listed amongst past and present legends who’ve pioneered the W over these amazing 25 years. As an athlete on the court, I’m proud of my career and hope to continue to leave a legacy of greatness. 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.”
Head coach Derek Fisher had more complimentary words for his star after practice Tuesday. “That’s just, again, recognition for how great she’s been for over a decade,” Fisher said. “We often judge books before we finish them. So our hope is that once Nneka’s book is completely written and finished that when people look back on her career they’ll understand, hopefully, the significance and the importance that she carries.”
Six other current and former Sparks were on the list along with Ogwumike, starting with Lisa Leslie, the lifelong Spark who won three MVPs, two DPOYs, and two titles with the franchise. Candace Parker, who spent her first 13 seasons in Los Angeles and is the only player to ever win rookie of the year and MVP in the same season, also made the W25.
The Sparks were also represented by current assistant coach Seimone Augustus, who spent her final season as a player with the franchise; Ticha Penicheiro, Cappie Pondexter, and Tina Thompson, each of whom played in Los Angeles towards the end of their careers.