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Nneka Ogwumike leaving Los Angeles Sparks after 12 seasons

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Nneka Ogwumike. (Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)

Nneka Ogwumike is leaving the Los Angeles Sparks in free agency, the team told ESPN on Wednesday.

The former WNBA MVP informed the team of her decision earlier the same day.

“I want to thank Nneka Ogwumike for 12 incredible seasons with the Los Angeles Sparks. Nneka has been a leader and changemaker for the Sparks, the city of Los Angeles, the WNBA, and women’s sports,” Sparks managing partner and governor Eric Holoman told ESPN in a statement. “From drafting her No. 1 in 2012, to her game-winning shot in the 2016 WNBA Finals, her 2016 MVP trophy, and so many special memories, her legacy is cemented as one of the greatest to ever wear Purple & Gold.”

Ogwumike was drafted No. 1 overall by the Sparks in 2012. She was named Rookie of the Year that year. Since then, she’s spent the entirety of her 12-year career in Los Angeles. In that time, Ogwumike won a title with the Sparks in 2016, when she was named league MVP.

She’s also been named a WNBA All-Star eight times and WNBA All-Defensive First Team four times. In 2021, she was named to the WNBA’s 25th Anniversary Team, highlighting the 25 best and most influential players in league history.

In a post on social media, Ogwumike expressed the love that she has for the city, noting that she hopes “it’s not goodbye, but ‘see you later.’”

“I have SO much. So much love for this city that unconditionally embraced this Stanford kid 12 years ago,” Ogwumike posted on social media. “So much pride in being only a small piece of the legacy that is Championship City.”

According to league sources, Ogwumike has taken meetings with the Sparks, Atlanta Dream, Phoenix Mercury and Chicago Sky. She still intends to meet with the Seattle Storm and New York Liberty before deciding on her free agency destination.