Chiney Ogwumike re-signs with Sparks, feels rejuvenated for season

So much happened for Ogwumike in her opt-out season in 2020, but she’s ready to take the court this upcoming season.

Los Angeles Sparks forward Chiney Ogwumike continues to push boundaries on and off the court in her many roles. (Photo by Aaron Lavinsky/Star Tribune)

“It’s the W for me,” Los Angeles Sparks forward Chiney Ogwumike, who just signed a multi-year deal to return, said on the women who empower her as Women’s History Month just begins.

“The 144 women that have not only held it down on the court but also most importantly, done things off the court that matter most,” Ogwumike said as she mentioned how society is now seeing what their power and voices translate to within the country.

The two-time WNBA All-Star also spoke on recently retired, WNBA veteran Renee Montgomery becoming one of the owners and an executive of the Atlanta Dream. In seeing Montgomery step into this role, Ogwumike talked about how great it is for players to branch out into leadership positions because of how necessary it is within not only women’s basketball but the business of the sport and women in the workplace in general.

“This is why I say it’s a testament to the W players for always pushing boundaries and breaking norms,” Ogwumike said.

Just as Montgomery began to have so many jobs off the court in the latter part of her career, Ogwumike also has her plate full in roles that keep her passion for the game of basketball strong. Even with her workload, she enjoys every aspect of being a player, member of the WNBPA Executive Committee, and co-hosting a nationally syndicated radio show on ESPN.

The forward worked so much in her opt-out season in 2020 to the point that people kept asking if she had retired from playing but the thought of even leaving the game did not cross her mind because she has always been in basketball mode, no matter what she was doing.

The consistent training she did was a big part of Ogwumike’s routine in 2020 because she wanted to be as healthy as possible heading into the upcoming season.

In her time away from competitive play in 2020, Ogwumike had to put herself first because of all she has had to overcome injury-wise in her career. This gave her a chance to get back to the basics and rebuild her body to help her turn her weaknesses into strengths so that she could expand her game.

“Whether it is mid-range shooting and three-point shooting, just skill work,” Ogwumike said as she named what areas of her game she has been working on. “The number one thing that I’ve been trying to focus on is reading the defense.”

In her first season with the Sparks in 2019, Ogwumike averaged 9.6 points on a field goal percentage of 49.4% and 5.8 rebounds in 21.8 minutes per game. In her starts for Los Angeles, she averaged 14.1 points and 8.3 rebounds. Ogwumike is very known to be a player who is an aggressive rebounder, sets hard picks, runs in the lane, and willing to take charges when she sees fit.

Even with many new faces on the Sparks heading into the 2021 season, Ogwumike maintains that the team’s mindset is still pursuing a championship while playing to each of their individual strengths for the collective. Ogwumike’s focus within the landscape of this team is to show up as her best self.

As many do not know how the Sparks will fare in this upcoming season after losing some big pieces and projections having them sitting low in power rankings, Ogwumike does not care about the uncertainty they have for the Sparks or where they sit in power rankings.

“There’s a whole bunch of ways to be productive outside of just an aggregation off power,” Ogwumike said. “There’s a whole lot of ways to be successful, ways that are unpredictable.”

The story of the season for Ogwumike will be how it will be built and sustained as she’s ready to bring her energy and renewed sense of self.

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