All Scores

Four reasons Nneka Ogwumike is the biggest snub in Team USA’s Olympics history

Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

With the announcement of the Team USA basketball roster Monday, it was inevitable that somebody great would get left off of the roster. But nobody could quite believe it when none other than Nneka Ogwumike was left off of the Olympic team — again.

Tuesday saw Los Angeles Sparks head coach Derek Fisher speak out in earnest, stating that the Sparks organization is “p—d” about Ogwumike’s omission from the U.S. Olympic Team. He added that it is a “freaking travesty” that she may go her entire career without playing for Team USA in the Olympics.

We’ve seen big players be inexplicably left off the Olympics squad before, most notably Candace Parker in 2016. The difference between CP3 and Nneka? Parker had at least been named to an Olympic team before. On the flip side, Ogwumike has had three different opportunities now to be named to the team and has still yet to receive an Olympics invitation. 

Let’s face it: Ogwumike isn’t just the biggest snub this year. She may be the biggest snub in Team USA basketball history. Here’s why:

1. She’s the only WNBA MVP to have never made an Olympic roster

The former No. 1 overall pick and Rookie of the Year, Ogwumike won MVP in 2016 — another year in which she didn’t make the Olympic roster. The six-time WNBA All-Star was also named to the All-WNBA First Team that year en route to becoming a WNBA Champion with the Los Angeles Sparks. 

Her banner year in 2016 also saw her set several WNBA records, including making 23 straight field goals without a miss through three games. She also set the record for most field goals in a single game without a miss with 12 made field goals against Dallas. 

Ogwumike’s scoring efficiency that year was literally unprecedented — she set the record for highest true shooting percentage (73.7%) for both the WNBA and NBA.

How the forward didn’t make the Olympic team that year is a mystery, and she’s only gotten better since, making this cycle’s snub even more apparent. 

2. She makes an impact every time she plays with Team USA 

It’s not like Ogwumike has never played for Team USA, having been a member of the senior National Team since 2014.

She started off her Team USA career in Argentina in 2008 as a member of the U-18 FIBA America team in Argentina, helping to lead the team to a 5-0 record while leading the squad in scoring and rebounding. There, Ogwumike was named MVP of the tournament. 

The same story unfolded at the U19 World Championship in 2009, where Ogwumike led Team USA in scoring and rebounding and was named tournament MVP. The star has also been part of two World Cup winning teams, in 2014 and 2018. 

More recently, Ogwumike was one of eight players who participated in USA Basketball’s expanded Pre-Olympic Training Program. She is also one of a few players who has attended every Team USA camp in the past five years, which had paid off up until this point: she was second in scoring for Team USA in 2019-20 and was named the 2020 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament MVP.

Despite Ogwumike helping Team USA qualify for the Olympics, she still wasn’t included on the final roster. 

3. She’s a leader on and off the court

The leadership that Ogwumike brings cannot be understated. As WNBPA president, Ogwumike has made an outsized impact on the WNBA. During the league’s latest CBA negotiations, Ogwumike helped to negotiate arguably the most impactful CBA in league history. 

As Devereaux Peters put it, Ogwumike “has quite literally changed the face of the league as president of the WNBPA.”

Two months later, Ogwumike and the player’s association helped negotiate the 2020 “wubble” season, making sure that players received their full contracts for the shortened season and playoffs. 

“I have watched Nneka put 144 players first each & every day for YEARS,” sister Chiney wrote 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.”

She’s also brought that leadership with her to Team USA, as coach Dawn Staley told reporters that Ogwumike has been a “great voice” during training camp and practices. 

4. And let’s be honest: Her injury doesn’t seem to be a factor

In talks with reporters, Staley alluded to the notion that Ogwumike’s knee injury was a factor in the decision to keep her off the Olympic team.

“Having to make a decision today,” she said. “If we had to make a decision a month from now, I’m sure she’d be healthy.”

Ogwumike is set to return in early July, more than two weeks before the Olympic basketball tournament begins. Diana Taurasi is also presently injured with a fractured sternum, and yet she was named to the team.

It’s hard to say who should have been left off in Ogwumike’s place. But she’s also too good of a player, both on and off the court, to have been left on the outside looking in (again).

New Washington Spirit Head Coach Jonatan Giráldez Arrivin DC

head coach Jonatan Giráldez
Jonatan Giráldez joins the NWSL from FC Barcelona Femení. (Ramsey Cardy/UEFA via Getty Images)

Five months after announcing that the Washington Spirit had hired Barcelona Femení coach Jonatan Giráldez as the team's new head coach, Giráldez has joined the club in Washington, DC.

Giráldez is coming off of a successful season with the Spanish side, having won UEFA Women's Champions League, Copa de la Reina, Supercopa, and Liga F in his final season to complete a lauded Quadruple.

While Giráldez was finishing out his tenure in Europe, Adrián González filled in as Spirit interim head coach. González has also seen success, leading the team to its third-place standing with a 9-3-1 record through 13 games.

“I’m thrilled to join the Spirit and begin this next chapter with the club,” Giráldez said in an official team statement. “To be part of the vision Michele Kang has for the Spirit and women’s soccer globally is an exciting opportunity.”

Giráldez has worked at Barcelona since 2019, initially coming on as an assistant coach before moving up to head coach in 2021. The team went 30-0-0 on the season under Giráldez during his first year as manager.

He brings along with him Andrés González and Toni Gordo, who will serve as the Spirit's Fitness Coach and Club Analyst, respectively.

US Track & Field Olympic Trials Touch Down in Oregon

Sha’Carri Richardson competes in the women’s 200-meter preliminary round during the USATF Outdoor Championships
Sha’Carri Richardson will have some competition this week as athletes vie for an Olympic berth. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The US Olympic Track & Field Trials begin on June 21st, kicking off a 10-day quest to determine who will represent the US in Paris this summer.

The crucial meet will take place in Eugene, Oregon, where the top three finishers in each event will punch their ticket to the 2024 Olympics. As with this past week's US Swimming Trials, even the most decorated athletes must work to earn their spot — and one bad performance could undermine four years of preparation.

Reigning 100-meter World Champion Sha'Carri Richardson headlines this year's field, as the 24-year-old looks to qualify for her second Olympic Games and compete in her first. Richardson is a world champion in both the 100-meter and 200-meter sprint, but missed the Tokyo Olympics due to testing positive for THC shortly after the last US Olympic Trials.

Other standouts include 400-meter Olympic gold medal-winning hurdler Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, who's currently the most decorated athlete in the active women's US Track & Field pool. McLaughlin-Levrone qualified to run in the 200-meter and 400-meter flat races alongside the 400-meter hurdles at the Olympic Trials, but opted to focus solely on her signature event.

800-meter specialist Athing Mu will also be a huge draw this week, as the Olympic gold medalist looks to shake off a lingering hamstring injury while pursuing her second Summer Games. Gold medal-winning pole vaulter Katie Moon will also attempt to qualify for her second-straight Olympic Games.

Ole Miss star McKenzie Long could be Richardson's greatest competition in the 100-meter and 200-meter events, as well as Richardson's Worlds teammate Gabby Thomas in the 200-meter. In field events, watch for Oregon senior Jaida Ross going head-to-head with reigning world champion Chase Jackson in the shot put, as both push for their first Olympic team berth.

Regardless of why you tune in, the US Olympic Trials are a perpetually thrilling and sometimes brutal qualification process. If you're able to make your way to the head of the pack, a shot at Olympic glory might just be waiting at the finish line.

Fans can catch live coverage throughout the Trials via NBC, USA, and Peacock.

Top Teams Square Off in NWSL Weekend Slate

NWSL Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda
Orlando Pride, led by forward Barbra Banda, will take on Utah in this weekend's NWSL action. (Nicholas Faulkner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

As the NWSL season continues, a few top-performing clubs will have a chance to boost their standings this weekend.

First-place Kansas City will travel to Providence Park to take on fifth-place Portland, as the Current look to keep their unbeaten streak intact. And in New Jersey, third-place Washington will take on fourth-place Gotham FC, with both teams attempting to extend multi-game unbeaten streaks.

A six-point gap has opened between the fifth and sixth spot on the NWSL table — with just six points also separating the league's top five. Kansas City, Orlando, Washington, Gotham, and Portland have recently proven themselves to be a cut above the rest of the competition. With eight postseason spots up for grabs and half the season behind us, a pattern is forming that indicates the playoff race could come down to spots six through eight on the NWSL table.

Of those top five teams, only Orlando faces an opponent in the bottom half of the league this weekend: The Pride will take on 14th-place Utah, who nonetheless are coming off a win — just their second of the season — over Bay FC last weekend.

But despite Kansas City and Orlando having yet to lose a game, Gotham might be the squad coming into the weekend with the most momentum.

Clutch goals from Rose Lavelle and rookie Maycee Bell gave the Bats a 2-0 midweek win over San Diego on Wednesday, in a rematch of the 2024 Challenge Cup. Gotham's unbeaten streak dates all the way back to April, as rising availability and sharpened form have honed this year's superteam into a contender.

Bottom line? As the NWSL season passes the halfway mark, some matches might begin to feel more like playoff previews than mere regular season battles.

Chelsea Gray Returns From Injury in Aces Win Over Seattle

las vegas aces chelsea gray and kelsey plum celebrate a win over the seattle storm
Gray has been sidelined with a foot injury since the 2023 WNBA Finals. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Chelsea Gray made her return to the basketball court on Wednesday, helping the Aces to a 94-83 win over the Seattle Storm. 

The lauded point guard missed the first 12 games of the season, having been injured in last year’s WNBA Finals. The left foot injury caused her to miss Game 4 of the championship series, and she’s continued to rehab it through the beginning of the 2024 season. 

Her return on Wednesday was capitalized by the fact that she needed just 20 seconds to make an impact and record her first assist. While she finished with just one point, she had seven assists, four rebounds, and two blocks to go alongside it in 15:30 minutes. Gray's contributions on the night brought her career assist record up to 1,500.

"I probably went through every emotion leading up to today," Gray said after the game. "I was a little anxious all day. It's been a long time since I've been out on that court. But the fans were amazing from the time I came out to warm up to the time I checked in the game. It was a rush and a feeling I missed a lot."

It’s been a roller coaster of a season so far for Las Vegas, who have lost five of their last seven games. Gray, who averaged 15.3 points, 7.3 assists, and 4.0 rebounds in 2023, has proven herself a much-needed addition to the team’s lineup.

"Felt like my heart," Aces coach Becky Hammon said when asked how she felt hearing the crowd erupt for Gray's return. "She's the leader of our team. I thought she did a wonderful job too."

Start your morning off right with Just Women’s Sports’ free, 5x-a-week newsletter.