In 2016, Los Angeles Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike was named WNBA MVP. She averaged 19.7 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.2 blocks and led the Sparks to the WNBA title.
Nevertheless, she was stunned that she was named MVP.
“That award, to me, it seems so high on the shelf – and that’s not to say that I couldn’t reach it, but you don’t think about it while you’re doing it,” Ogwumike said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “It was just a year when I wanted to play well, I wanted to do well for my team, but more importantly, I wanted to win and leave everybody with a great experience. So even down to the wire when it looked like it was going to veer toward my way, I was still very surprised. It was definitely a memory to hold on to.”
Ogwumike, 27, starred at Stanford, reached four Final Fours, and is the program’s second all-time leading scorer. She was the No. 1 pick in the 2012 WNBA Draft and is in her sixth season, all with the Sparks.
“Each year is more exciting,” she said. “You see growth (in the game) when you change your perspective about it. When you talk to people who are fans of yours and they bring your own friends, I think it’s very important for people to come and watch a game physically. That’s when people really get hooked. When that happens, you see the game grow.”
The 2016 WNBA Finals certainly helped in that aspect. The Sparks edged the Minnesota Lynx in five games, winning Game 5, 77-76, on the road. Three of the five games went down to the fire, including Games 4 and 5.
“I think it was one of the most-watched sporting events in a while,” Ogwumike said. “It was all the way down to the wire, and I think that was great (for our) sport.”