- Nneka Ogwumike is a basketball player with an impressive resume.
- With over 50 awards and honours, the Nigerian-American pro basketballer stands out in the Women's National Basketball Association.
- She is a power forward for the Los Angeles Sparks and the president of the Women's National Basketball Players Association.
Meet Nnemkadi Chinwe Victoria "Nneka" Ogwumike, a first-generation American of Nigerian descent.
She was born on July 2, 1990. Her journey to the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) started in high school where she was named a WBCA All-American.
Describing how it all started, she told Sporttechie: “My journey started a little late. I started playing basketball when I was about 11. It was definitely a learning curve for me initially, but my parents were always adamant about us being well rounded so I ended up playing basketball.”
Ogwumike participated in the 2008 WBCA High School All-America Game, where she earned MVP honours after scoring 17 points.
From high school, she went to college (Stanford Cardinal) where she joined the USA Under 18 Team that won gold in Argentina on July 23–27, 2008.
She helped the Cardinal reach the Final Four four times before leaving as the second all-time leading scorer for the women's basketball program.
Apart from having a successful basketball career, she also earned a degree in psychology.
Joining the WNBA
Ogwumike became the second player from Cypress-Fairbanks High School to be drafted No. 1 overall into the WNBA after she was selected on April 16, 2012.
Months later, she set a career-high in rebounds. Her skills on the court earned her the WNBA Rookie of the Month title four out of five times in her rookie season.
During the 2014 season, the Nigerian-American was voted a WNBA All-star for the second time in her career along with her sister Chiney Ogwumike. The two are the first pair of sisters to be selected into a WNBA All-Star game.
In 2016, she was named AP WNBA Player of the Year. She also won the WNBA Most Valuable Player Award and set two WNBA records - for most consecutive field goals made and a single-game record for most field-goal attempts without a miss.
Later that year, Ogwumike became the most efficient shooter in the history of professional basketball after setting the basketball record for highest true shooting percentage by reaching 73.7% during the season.
She also became the seventh player in WNBA history to win both the regular-season MVP award and a championship in the same season.
Her impressive resume includes being a WNBA champion, World Cup champion, EuroLeague champion and even a Polish League champion.
Leading the WNBA
Ogwumike was elected President of the WNBA Players Association in 2016. At 29, she was re-elected to a new three-year term in 2019.
In her words, “I always tell people that it wasn’t something I necessarily wanted to do or expected to do. I sort of flopped into it and I ended up getting elected twice now as the president, though unopposed. I realized it was a big role to play and I’ve been surrounded by an amazing group of women in our executive committee and staff."
As president, she is focused on fighting against the gender pay gap in professional basketball. She is supported by the vice president of the WNBA who happens to be her sister, Chiney. She also plays for the Los Angeles Sparks.
Together, they have been able to secure a monumental new collective bargaining agreement that analysts say will change the WNBA, and arguably women’s sport, forever.
The terms of the new league-wide contracts include compensation of up to $60,000 (£47,000) in adoption, surrogacy and fertility treatment for veteran players, improved salaries and basic employees’ rights like better travel conditions.
Sharing her thoughts on the new agreement, Chiney said, “People were calling this agreement ground-breaking, and as I heard it more and more I realised it wasn’t ground-breaking, but ground-establishing."
For the president, Nneka, the new deal is a big deal as “It hasn't always been easy for women of colour. And so for us to be able to make such a monumental agreement with the league, with obviously mostly black women, we're very proud of tha. And obviously there's more than just the racial diversity that we have in the league. We have players of so many different orientations and so many different backgrounds. We have mothers. And so I think that this agreement was exactly what we wanted.”
Endorsement and net worth
Ogwumike signed an endorsement deal with Nike after she was drafted No. 1 overall in the 2012 WNBA Draft. She has an estimated net worth of $1 Million - $5 Million.
Ogwumike has earned over 50 awards and titles. The most recent being;
- 2016 WNBA Champion
- 2016 WNBA MVP
- 2016 All WNBA First Team
- 2015 WNBA all-star