Charter flights are on the horizon for the WNBA, with commissioner Cathy Engelbert saying on Tuesday that the league will provide teams with full-time private travel services beginning as soon as this season. 

The move is set to address years of player safety concerns, among other issues. Engelbert told AP Sports Editors that the league aims to launch the program "as soon as we can logistically get planes in place."

The initiative is projected to cost around $25 million per year over the next two seasons.

The WNBA has previously provided charter flights on a limited basis, including during the postseason and when teams were scheduled to play back-to-back regular season games. Individual owners seeking to independently provide their teams with private travel — such as the New York Liberty’s Joe and Clara Wu Tsai back in 2022 — faced significant fines for using unauthorized charters.

While players and team staff have been calling for league-wide charters even before Caitlin Clark and other high profile rookies joined the league, Engelbert has routinely cited steep year-to-year costs as the reasoning behind sticking to commercial flights. 

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However, the WNBA's surging popularity means increased visibility, and a subsequent uptick in security concerns — especially when it comes to big name newcomers like Clark — has Englebert reconsidering her previous decision. 

WNBA Players Association president Nneka Ogwumike called the move "transformational," and credited the WNBPA as well as the league for its implementation. 

"Our league is growing, the demand for women's basketball is growing," Ogwumike told ESPN. "That means more eyes on us, which is what we want, but that means more protection from the organization that we play for, the whole W that we play for.

"Chartering flights not only is a safety measure, the biggest thing, and then obviously what it means to be able to play a game and go home and rest and recover and be the elite athletes that we try to be every single night when we step out onto this court."

Aces coach Becky Hammon called the immediate response to the charter announcement "great" but noted that there are still kinks to be worked out. 

"What it all looks like, we’re still gathering information, we don’t know," she said Tuesday.

Several players emphasized the importance of safety, highlighting how last season the Phoenix Mercury’s Brittney Griner was harassed in an airport while traveling commercial.

"All these players and these faces are becoming so popular that it really is about that as much as it as about recovery," Minnesota Lynx forward Napheesa Collier said.

"Above everything else, I think it's the safety of our players," Mercury player Natasha Cloud added. "We have a prime example with BG on our team that needs to be safe. At airports, it's like a madhouse. You see Caitlin Clark walking through airports, people following her, people trying to touch her, get pictures with her. It's just a safety measure, through and through. You would never have an NBA team walk through an airport."

Prior to Tuesday's announcement, the league had said it would charter flights for the playoffs and back-to-back games via a program introduced last year. The latest news, however, promises that teams will also be provided charters to and from all regular season games.

"Our safety is being taken seriously now, finally. In no world should our security not be a priority," Griner told ESPN. "If we want to be the league that we want to be and have the respect that we have, it comes with some risks. Sometimes people want to get close to you and it's not people you want, so I'm just glad that we don't have to deal with that anymore."

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.

The polls are closed for 2023 WNBA All-Star voting, and the game’s starters will be announced Sunday. From there, the WNBA’s 12 head coaches will select the 12 reserves, and the two top vote-getters will serve as captains and draft their respective All-Star teams on July 8.

For the first part of the process, media members were tasked with selecting four guards and four forwards/centers on their ballots. Whoever receives the most votes will start in the All-Star Game on July 15 in Las Vegas.

Here’s how I voted.

Jackie Young has been one of the best players on a star-studded Aces team. (Adam Hagy/NBAE via Getty Images)


Jackie Young, Las Vegas Aces

Young took home the Most Improved Player award last season, and so far this year, she’s been even better. Las Vegas is bursting with talent, but Young has often been the best player on the court for her team and has turned herself into one of the best guards in the league. The Notre Dame product is averaging 21 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.6 steals per game. She’s shooting 50% from beyond the arc, making 2.3 3-pointers per contest, and has also been aggressive on the attack and in transition.

Young has been consistent in her play since she opened the season with 23 points in a win over Seattle. Of all the guards, she was the easiest All-Star selection for me.

Jewell Loyd, Seattle Storm

The Storm may be struggling, but Loyd certainly isn’t. She’s leading the WNBA with 26.2 points per game and leading Seattle with 3.7 assists per game. The 29-year-old guard is a prolific shot creator, and without Breanna Stewart in Seattle this season, she’s taken on a bigger scoring role. Last year, Loyd was one of the league’s top guards, averaging 16.3 points per game. This year, she’s increased that number by 10 points. So far, Loyd has recorded four 30-plus point games, including a career-high 39 in a 109-103 win over Dallas on June 17.

Chelsea Gray, Las Vegas Aces

Last season’s Finals MVP is picking up right where she left off. The Aces rank first in the league in scoring, and their offense starts with Gray. She leads the team and is third among all WNBA players with 6.3 assists per game. Gray can also create shots for herself, averaging 13.6 points per game. Of all those qualities, it’s the veteran’s efficient scoring that makes her stand out to me. Gray is making 51.8% of her 2-point shots, 51.2% of her 3-point shots and 92.3% of her free-throw attempts.

Allisha Gray, Atlanta Dream

After playing her first six seasons with the Dallas Wings, Gray is wasting no time establishing herself with the Dream. The guard is averaging 17.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game, all of which are career-high marks. Gray is also an excellent on-ball defender, meaning she impacts nearly every aspect of the game for Atlanta.

Gray is aggressive when both driving to the rim and attacking the glass. She’s the third-best rebounder among guards in the WNBA and has recorded two double-doubles this season. This is the best season of Gray’s career, and she is certainly worthy of making her first All-Star appearance.

Brittney Griner was playing at an All-Star level until she got hurt on June 13. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)


Brittney Griner, Phoenix Mercury

I expected Griner to take some time getting reacclimated to the WNBA after she returned home in December from wrongful detainment in Russia, but that was not the case. She opened the season with 18 points on 7-for-9 shooting from the field and four blocked shots. Since then, the Mercury center has been consistent on both ends of the floor. She’s averaging 20.1 points per game, which is sixth in the league, and 2.5 blocks per game, which is first.

Until getting injured in an 83-69 loss to Seattle on June 13, when she played just nine minutes and scored two points, Griner had scored at least 18 points in every appearance.

Alyssa Thomas, Connecticut Sun

Connecticut coach Stepahnie White calls Thomas the “most underrated superstar in the WNBA.” While Thomas may fly under the radar, her impact on the court cannot be overstated.

Thomas does everything for the Sun. She averages 14.8 points, 10.5 rebounds, 8.0 assists and 2.1 steals per contest, leaving her just two assists shy of averaging a triple-double for the season. She recorded the fifth triple-double of her career on June 20, with 15 rebounds, 13 points and 12 assists in an 85-79 win over the Storm. Thomas is also efficient with her decision-making, averaging just three turnovers per contest.

Satou Sabally, Dallas Wings

Injuries plagued Sabally in the first few seasons of her career, but now the Oregon product is healthy and playing her best basketball. Sabally is a versatile scorer who, at 6-foot-4, can get points from inside or outside, off a post-up or off the dribble. She’s averaging 20 points (up from 11.3 last season), 10.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Sabally is one of just three players in the WNBA averaging a double-double on the season. The forward should be a shoe-in All-Star selection.

Nneka Ogwumike, Los Angeles Sparks

The Sparks have battled injuries so far this season, but with different lineups nearly every night, Ogwumike has been the consistent bright spot. In her 12th season in the WNBA, Ogwumike is averaging a career-best 19.6 points and 9.7 rebounds per game, nearing a double-double. She is also averaging a career-high 3.6 assists per game, showing off her ability to read defenses and find open shooters. Ogwumike also has six double-doubles so far this season.

A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces

The reigning WNBA MVP has continued her dominance for the Aces, leading her team to a league leading 11-1 record so far. Wilson has led her team in either points or rebounds in 10 of those 12 games. She’s averaging 18.6 points and 9.3 rebounds per contest, while also making a difference on the defensive end with 2.2 blocks and 1.3 steals per game.

Wilson has been held to single-digit scoring just once this season, with eight in a win over Minnesota on June 18. But in that game, she proved her ability to impact the Aces in multiple ways, recording season-highs in rebounds (14) and blocks (four).

Breanna Stewart, New York Liberty

It’s taking the WNBA’s newest superteam time to develop chemistry, but through the growing pains, Stewart has been one of the league’s best players. In her first home game for the Liberty, Stewart recorded a double-double with 45 points and 12 rebounds, setting a new franchise record. She’s averaging a team-high 23.9 points, 10.8 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 1.7 steals per game, while also dishing out four assists per game. Stewart is second in the WNBA in scoring and first in rebounding.

Eden Laase is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @eden_laase.

Former No. 1 pick Charli Collier joined the long list of WNBA roster cuts Wednesday morning, as the Dallas Wings waived the top pick from 2021 draft.

Many players have found themselves on the wrong side of the league’s roster squeeze, include DiDi Richards, Monika Czinano, Brea Beal and Destanni Henderson — too many, if you ask WNBPA president Nneka Ogwumike.

“A whole league is training at home…” she wrote on Twitter.

In the aftermath of the recent cuts, Ogwumike was far from the only player calling for WNBA expansion to increase the number of available roster spots. The 12-team league has a maximum of 144 spots available.

As of Wednesday morning, 18 of the 36 picks from the 2023 draft appear on WNBA rosters. Last season, just 17 of the 36 picks from the 2022 WNBA draft made opening day rosters. And many teams still have cuts left to make to fit under the 12-player maximum by Thursday’s roster deadline.

While much attention has been given to possible expansion teams, former All-Star MVP Erica Wheeler suggested a quicker fix to the roster crunch.

“We pushing get more teams in the W! NO,” wrote Erica Wheeler. “EXTEND the roster to 14 players! That’s just a quick signature!! Adding a new teams gotta go thru 500000 layers! Adding 2 more spots to 12 teams is 24 more spots in the league! This is a easy change!

“And thennnnnn talk about adding teams! Of course we want more teams but extending the roster spots are easier right now!”

Former No. 1 overall pick and 2022 rookie of the year Rhyne Howard called the cuts – and the surrounding discussions – “stressful.”

Connecticut Sun guard Natisha Hiedeman provided encouragement to any player who finds herself suddenly without a team.

“Being a player who has been cut from a WNBA roster in the past I just want ppl to know your value as a person or basketball player does not decrease,” she wrote. “There WILL be another opportunity & when it comes be ready for it. But expansion… WE NEED YOU!!”

Yet despite the criticism of the league, Phoenix Mercury forward Brianna Turner encouraged fans to follow the WNBA and to help the league grow.

“I know there’s upset fans at WNBA roster cuts & I see many people saying how they won’t support the league bc their fave got cut,” she wrote. “I would actually encourage the opposite! Please continue to support the league so it can grow & create more opportunities to support future players!!”

The Los Angeles Sparks enter the 2023 season as a transformed team, with a new coach, a new general manager and a new philosophy.

Nneka Ogwumike has noticed the difference.

The 32-year-old forward has spent her entire career with the Sparks, from her 2012 Rookie of the Year campaign to the 2016 WNBA championship season. While she has seen ups and downs in her tenure, she has never seen the organization at this level, she said at the start of training camp.

“This is the first time I’ve really experienced what I believe to be a professional organization,” Ogwumike said.

Head coach Curt Miller and general manager Karen Bryant, who both came to Los Angeles in the offseason, immediately put their stamp on the team.

“That leaves space for me to not have to step into a manager role, which doesn’t leave me a lot of time to do the things that I really want to do, which is play basketball and hang out with my teammates,” Ogwumike said. “I really feel like I’ve relinquished a lot of that because we have some truly phenomenal people that have turned this organization into what it deserves to be.”

In another change, the Sparks parted ways with team president Vanessa Shay earlier this week. She had joined the team last May from the NWSL’s San Diego Wave. Sparks managing partner Eric Holman thanked Shay for guiding the team “through an important transition.”

With the reins now in the hands of Bryant and Miller, the team is prepared to start fresh. And while Ogwumike rejoined the Sparks on a one-year deal, Miller does not feel any pressure for the upcoming season, which tips off on May 19.

Miller cautioned against looking too far into the future. Instead, he wants to work day by day to build toward success, a journey “we think could be very special — and more importantly, sustainable,” he said.

“There’s going to be no more pressure than what we believe in our own locker room,” Miller said.

Nneka Ogwumike is back with the Los Angeles Sparks. The 2016 WNBA MVP re-signed with the team on a one-year deal.

The 32-year-old forward was drafted No. 1 overall by the Sparks in 2012, and she has spent the entirety of her 11-season career in Los Angeles. The one-year deal is worth $165,000, ESPN reported.

Ogwumike had been vocal about wanting to return, and she has been working with new coach Curt Miller and new general manager Karen Bryant on setting the direction for the team.

“I feel like I’m reaching a pivotal point my career and understanding what I want it to mean,” Ogwumike told ESPN. “I’m excited to see a lot of the enhancements that we’re making. I’m grateful to be surrounded by both players, coaches and staff that have a greater vision for the organization.

“I feel really good with where I’m at and how I’m progressing as an athlete. I want to be able to win and do that with some great people. I really do believe in this organization.”

Miller and Bryant both said that re-signing Ogwumike and getting her input on their offseason moves were top priorities. 

“She’s had a front-row seat in the franchise for many years for many years, and has seen the things that have worked and things that have not been as successful,” Bryant said. “Her global view, playing experience and credibility were hugely valuable to us.”

Ogwumike’s sister Chiney also has re-signed with the Sparks.

“We’re really two entities that are stronger together,” Nneka Ogwumike said. “It’s always something to be celebrated. And I really want to take that to another level in winning with my sister.”

WNBA Players Association president Nneka Ogwumike continues to speak out on the WNBA’s travel woes, calling on the league to provide charter flights for the 2023 season.

In a statement issued Tuesday via the WNBPA, Ogwumike called the issue of commercial travel for teams a “serious health and safety concern that must be remedied.”

Her statement comes after the Los Angeles Sparks spent the night in Dulles Airport outside Washington, D.C., due to flight delays. Ogwumike detailed the ordeal on social media, saying that half the team spent the night in the airport due to a lack of hotel rooms. The team is set to play Connecticut in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

The league’s most recent CBA details that teams can pay for premium economy seats on airplanes. Players have the option to pay out of their own pockets to upgrade to first class, but charter flights are not allowed. But as several teams around the league have dealt with travel issues this season, calls for charter flights have grown louder.

“‘Competitive advantage’ is a tired argument that has overstayed its welcome. It has become a phrase that impedes transformational growth across our league,” Ogwumike said. “The numbers and the trends suggest that The W is a smart investment with a measurable return. New and emerging ownership groups have demonstrated an ability and eagerness to invest the necessary resources to grow this league in the areas that require it most.”

While the league has said it will charter flights for the 2022 playoffs, it has penalized teams for opting to charter flights in the past. Last season, the New York Liberty were fined after owners Joe and Clara Tsai flew players to and from games in violation of the CBA.

But, as Ogwumike points out, the commercial travel landscape has changed since the WNBPA and WNBA negotiated the current CBA. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the required form of travel “remains a significant burden on our players and their bodies,” Ogwumike said.

The Sparks forward also called on private and commercial airline companies to step up and “recognize this bold opportunity to lead” in a partnership with the WNBA. Earlier this year, Delta and the NWSL announced a multi-year partnership, with Delta becoming the official airline of the league. No such deal exists in the WNBA.

The Los Angeles Sparks spent the night in the airport Sunday. The team’s flight home from Washington, D.C., was canceled, which left half the team sleeping in the airport, star Nneka Ogwumike said.

Ogwumike chronicled the ordeal on social media, updating her followers on the team’s attempt to fly home Sunday after defeating the Mystics. The Sparks will face the Connecticut Sun in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

“This is my first time in 11 seasons that I’ve ever had to sleep in the airport,” Ogwumike said. “Half of us are sleeping in the airport, half of us are in a hotel. There weren’t enough rooms.”

According to Ogwumike, the team’s flight was delayed several times before being canceled at 1 a.m. ET and rescheduled for the morning at 9 a.m. ET.

Sparks assistant coach Latricia Trammell also took to Twitter to lament the team’s travel misfortunes.

Travel accommodations have been a hot topic in the WNBA, with many players calling for a move away from commercial flights to chartered flights. The league, however, requires all teams to fly commercial to mitigate competitive advantage, with some owners unwilling or unable to secure charter flights.

In response to travel grievances, the WNBA supplied charter flights for the Commissioner’s Cup championship game and will do the same for the WNBA Finals.

The Stanford athletic department announced Sunday its first all-women Hall of Fame class in school history, in a continuation of its Title IX 50th anniversary celebrations.

Christen Press and Nneka Ogwumike will headline the class of eight athletes.

The list of inductees also includes Tara VanDerveer, who will be honored for her legendary basketball coaching career, which includes three national titles in her 36 seasons at Stanford.

Eligible for induction 10 years after their final competition season, the athletes being honored have produced four NCAA team championships and six individual NCAA titles as well as Olympic medals and national player of the year awards. All eight athletes were All-Americans during their time at Stanford.

They will be inducted in a ceremony on Friday, Sept. 9, and honored during Stanford’s football game against USC the following day.

Full list of inductees:

  • Lisa Bernhagen Ramos, track and field, 1986-89
  • Elaine Breeden Penrose, swimming and diving, 2007-10
  • Margie Dingeldein, water polo, 1999-2002
  • Ashley Hansen, softball, 2009-12
  • Carly Janiga Reardon, gymnastics, 2007-10
  • Nneka Ogwumike, basketball, 2009-12
  • Christen Press, soccer, 2007-10
  • Sally Voss Krueger, golf, 1976-79
  • Tara VanDerveer, basketball coach, 1985-present
  • Linda Meijer, special recognition for service to athletic department

June is in the WNBA rearview mirror, and with it came highlights aplenty. From triple-double records to 35-point games to overtime battles, the stars of the league showed out.

Each month through the end of the regular season, Just Women’s Sports will select five starters and five reserves making up the team of the month.

As teams fight for playoff position, records become extra important. When making my selections for June’s lineup, team success was a key component in the evaluation process. There will always be outliers who can’t be ignored, but overall if a player is putting up big numbers but not necessarily propelling their team to victory, they have a lower chance of making the team of the month.

Here’s who made the cut for June.

Courtney Vandersloot led the Sky to a 9-2 record in June. (Evan Yu/NBAE via Getty Images)

Courtney Vandersloot, G, Chicago Sky

Though she’s a four-time All-Star, the Chicago Sky guard often performs in the background for her team. Vandersloot is elite at running the show and setting up her teammates, which is always her focus as a traditional point guard. Her numbers reflect that, with Vandersloot averaging 11 points, 6.3 assists and 3.9 rebounds a game this season.

But the veteran player is also a skilled scorer when she wants to be. In June, Vandersloot led the Sky in scoring in three straight games, with 25, 15 and then 18 points. She also recorded a 20-point, 10-assist double-double to help the Sky close out an 88-86 win over the Liberty on June 12. The Sky were 9-2 in June, with Vandersloot leading the team in assists in six of those contests.

Sabrina Ionescu, G, New York Liberty

May was a month to forget for the Liberty, as the team went 1-7 to open the season. The New York squad greatly improved in June, going 7-4 and inching closer to a winning record. A big part of the successful month was Ionescu, who averaged 20.3 points per game in June and led the Liberty in scoring in six of their 11 contests.

Ionescu’s triple-double on June 12 was a highlight, but it was also indicative of the well-rounded play she brought all month. She led the Liberty in at least one category in all 11 games, led in two categories in four games and led in three categories twice.

Emma Meesseman, F, Chicago Sky

The Sky were the best team in the WNBA in June, recording just two losses, so it makes sense to have two players on this list. Joining Vandersloot is fellow All-Star Meesseman, who has been a key contributor to the reigning champions in her first season in Chicago. Meesseman averaged 14.4 points per game in June and had her biggest performances in close contests.

After leading the Sky with 20 points and 11 boards in an 88-86 win over the Liberty on June 12, she added 17 points and 12 rebounds in a 106-100 overtime victory over the Dream five days later. Meesseman was also efficient with her opportunities, shooting 57 percent from the field over the nine games.

Connecticut's Jonquel Jones recorded five double-doubles in June. (Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Jonquel Jones, F, Connecticut Sun

The reigning WNBA MVP is having another stellar season, averaging 14.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game for Connecticut. Jones was particularly strong in June, recording five double-doubles in 11 contests. She led the Sun in points seven times and in rebounding seven times, and there were four games in which she led in both categories.

Jones got her team off to a hot start in June, recording 20, 24, 25 and 16 points in the Sun’s first four games (all wins). Her efforts have helped Connecticut stay in fourth place in the league standings, just two games behind the first-place Sky.

Nneka Ogwumike averaged 18.6 points for the Sparks in June. (Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Nneka Ogwumike, F, Los Angeles Sparks

I promised the occasional outlier in choosing the WNBA Team of the Month, and here it is. The Sparks went 2-5 in June, but Ogwumike was a noticeable bright spot. She led her team in scoring in every contest, averaging 18.6 points, while also recording two double-doubles. Ogwumike has been the most consistent piece on a rocky Sparks squad, and her play in June was particularly indicative of the seven-time All-Star’s individual dominance this season.


Skylar Diggins-Smith, G, Phoenix Mercury

The 10-15 Mercury are struggling, but Diggins-Smith is not. The guard leads the league in minutes played and is third in points. She had 25 points or more in four games in June.

Kelsey Plum, G, Las Vegas Aces

Plum could easily be a part of this month’s starting five. The All-Star Game MVP is in the midst of a breakout season and averaged 23 points per game in the month of June.

A’ja Wilson, F, Las Vegas Aces

Wilson, averaging 18.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per game this season, had five double-doubles in June alone. Her month included a 35-point performance in an 89-72 win over the Sparks, tying her career-high.

Breanna Stewart, F, Seattle Storm

Stewart averaged 22 points a game in June, leading the Storm in scoring six times. Stewart was also efficient with the ball, turning it over just nine times all month as she helped the 16-8 Storm hold onto third place in the standings.

Alyssa Thomas, F, Connecticut Sun

While Jones continues to put up huge numbers for the Sun, Thomas has had a hand in every victory, contributing in multiple ways. She led her team in rebounding four times and in assists 10 times. The highlight of her month was a double-double in a win over the Storm, with 11 rebounds and 12 assists.

Eden Laase is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @eden_laase.