July 15, 2022
Nneka Ogwumike reaches 5,000 career points mark
The bounce-back season continues for the former MVP as she achieves yet another milestone while in a Sparks jersey.
The bounce-back season continues for Nneka Ogwumike. After a disappointing 2021 of nagging injuries and missing the playoffs, Ogwumike has planted herself firmly into the MVP conversation. After a slow start to the season, she has the Sparks in the middle of the playoff hunt.
As a result, she was named a starter in the All-Star Game for the first time in her career. Her latest accolade came on Thursday night against the Chicago Sky when she reached the 5,000 career points mark.
Coming into the game, Ogwumike was 24th behind Maya Moore on the WNBA’s all-time scoring list. She passed Moore when she scored her first points of the game. Ogwumike reached the 5,000 mark when she scored her final basket of the game to give her a team-high 16 points.
She joins Lisa Leslie and Candace Parker as the only Sparks players to reach that milestone. Like Leslie, she’s done it all while wearing a Sparks jersey. After the game, Ogwumike reflected on what it meant for her to achieve that feat after joking that she wished she could have accomplished that while shooting a better percentage.
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“I’m proud to have done it, I’ve done all of that in a Sparks jersey. That’s really important for me, legacy is important for me,” Ogwumike said. “To be in company with Lisa and CP like that, that’s really really huge. I say this all the time, I didn’t do it by myself.”
It was Ogwumike’s first game back after missing the previous one on Tuesday against the Mystics with a non-COVID illness. As the game began, she looked like she had an extra bounce in her step. She was decisive with the ball and was making it a point to get going offensively.
Whether or not she knew about the milestone beforehand, she wanted to come out and set the tone.
“I think it was good for me to be aggressive and to kind of get some looks tonight given me kind of feeling a little down and out the other night,” Ogwumike said. “But I’m just really grateful to have been able to achieve that in a Sparks jersey with this team. I really love this team.”
Despite the milestone, the Sparks dropped their third consecutive game going back before the All-Star break. They came out with the right kind of energy and were able to match Chicago until midway through the second quarter when costly turnovers helped the Sky build up momentum with transition opportunities.
As the leader of the team, Ogwumike has done her part to make sure that morale stays high. She makes sure that the learns and grows from these losses while continuing to stay focused on the bigger goal of getting to the postseason.
“I always say that it’s if you lose but how you lose. I’ve been saying that since I’ve been here and it’s something I’ve learned. Tonight we fought hard and I think there’s something to say for that type of effort,” Ogwumike said. “It’s also understanding that it’s not just about you, but knowing that you have people that can help you through whatever you’re going through and I think that’s really been the theme for our team this season.”
“In the beginning, I talked to my teammates about how even though we were going through some tough losses, a lot of single point digit losses, we maintain composure. That’s something that we’re slowly getting back to, and that composure builds trust and also gives grace to everyone to feel comfortable to be out there and even make mistakes at times.”
Written by David Mendez-Yapkowitz
David has been with The Next team since the High Post Hoops days when he joined the staff in 2018. He is based in Los Angeles and covers the LA Sparks, Pac-12 Conference, Big West Conference and some high school as well.