October 3, 2021 

Nneka Ogwumike wins Sportsmanship Award

WNBPA president has led WNBA into new era

Los Angeles Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike was named the 2021 Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award recipient, the WNBA announced Sunday.

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Ogwumike also won the award in 2019 and 2020. She is the only player in league history to win the award in three consecutive years.

The award is named after the late Kim Perrot, a two-time WNBA champion with the legendary Houston Comets franchise. Ogwumike received 19 of 49 votes from a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters. Atlanta Dream center/forward Elizabeth Williams finished second (8 votes) followed by Washington Mystics guard Ariel Atkins and Phoenix Mercury forward Brianna Turner with four votes apiece. Sylvia Fowles, Danielle Robinson, A’ja Wilson (3 votes each), Briann January (2 votes), Jewell Loyd, Allie Quigley and Sami Whitcomb (1 vote each) also received votes.

Ogwumike is a women’s basketball icon. As the President of the WNBA’s players union, the WNBPA, she was instrumental in negotiating the league’s ground-breaking Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). The CBA brought significant increases to player pay and benefits and laid the foundation for enhanced league and team marketing deals. She has also played a key role in advancing the league’s social justice efforts. This past summer she was also featured in the much-anticipated Space Jam 2 movie.

Nneka has also been dominant on the court during her career. The six-time WNBA All-Star was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 WNBA draft. She won Rookie of the Year in 2012 and was named MVP in 2016. Ogwumike has also won two World Cup gold medals with the United States senior national team, but was controversially left off the roster for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Always the trailblazer, Nneka petitioned to play for the Nigerian national team. Her petition was eventually denied, but perhaps fans could see her suit up for Team Nigeria for the Paris Olympics in 2024.

The 2022 WNBA season will be Ogwumike’s second season of a two-year, $386,817 contract with the Los Angeles Sparks.

Written by Tee Baker

Tee has been a contributor to The Next since March Madness 2021 and is currently a contributing editor, BIG EAST beat reporter and curator of historical deep dives.

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