One name was notably missing from the U.S women's basketball team for the upcoming Olympics, and it wasn't the first time. After missing out on the 2016 Olympics, Sparks star Nneka Ogwumike was omitted once again from the 12-player roster.
Ogwumike is the only former WNBA MVP to not make an Olympic roster in her career. Sparks coach Derek Fisher said he was "pissed," calling Ogwumike's omission "a freaking travesty."
"The thing about Nneka is nothing has to be given to her," Fisher told Just Women's Sports. "She earned it. She deserves it. That's the most frustrating and disappointing part. That's the part that makes you angry the most."
U.S. women's basketball coach Dawn Staley said that Ogwumike was left off the roster due to a left knee sprain that the former Stanford star is nursing.
“Breaks my heart that Nneka isn’t on this team,” Staley told the Associated Press. “Having to make a decision today, if we had to make a decision a month from now I’m sure she’d be healthy. This was one of the things she wanted to do. ... She’s been a great voice in our training camp and practices. We’re going to definitely miss Nneka.”
However, Ogwumike is expected to return in the next few weeks, well before July 26 when the women’s basketball tournament in Tokyo will begin. Diana Taurasi (fractured sternum) is also recovering from injury but was chosen for her fifth straight Olympics.
“I’m calling BS on that too,” Fisher said in regards to Ogwumike's omission due to injury. “The timeline doesn’t add up for her being unavailable to play in the Olympics. I don’t care what math you use, old math, new math.
"We respect other players, happy for the ones that made it, but there’s no way you can tell me you put a team together and leave Nneka off of it and try to say that it makes sense and that it adds up because it doesn’t.”
Ogwumike was part of USA Basketball’s expanded Pre-Olympic training program and led Team USA in scoring in 2019–20 while helping the team qualify for Tokyo. The six-time All-Star is also the president of the WNBA Players Association.
"I have watched Nneka put 144 players first each & every day for YEARS,” Ogwumike's sister Chiney said on Twitter. “No one practices harder. Plays harder. Cares more. No one is a better teammate or leader. Representation matters and there is no better representative or ambassador for the game THAT HAS GAME than Nnemkadi Ogwumike."
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