Sparks’ Ogwumike ready to return after tough two months

It’s been a difficult two months for Nneka Ogwumike.

The Los Angeles Sparks forward injured a knee on June 1 and then had to deal with being left off the USA Basketball roster that won gold at the Tokyo Games and losing an appeal to play with the Nigerian Olympic team as well.

“It’s been a lot about figuring out how I want to come out of this,” Ogwumike said of those two disappointments. “When you endure situations that are tough in life, you can choose many different routes. I’m just grateful to be on a team with people who care about me.

“I’ve always been described as resilient, and I think I had to tell myself that a lot, to make sure that I believed it. Because it’s been a few weeks of feeling unvaluable or unworthy.”

Ogwumike briefly broke down on the media Zoom call.

“I’m sorry. I wasn’t going to cry. It’s been very difficult. I just want to play basketball. And have fun.”

The 2016 WNBA MVP is expected to be back for the Sparks on Sunday when the WNBA season resumes and Los Angeles faces Indiana.

“Each day is incrementally better,” Ogwumike said. “When you suffer an injury like this, you still are a little ginger at times, but I try to put it out of my mind. It’s a mental thing.”

Ogwumike was playing well before she suffered the injury, averaging 16.4 points and seven rebounds. She was shooting nearly 59% from the field.

The Sparks (6-13) have struggled without her as well as her sister Chiney and Kristi Toliver. Chiney Ogwumike, who last played May 28 due to her own knee injury, is getting close to returning. Toliver missed the last six games before the break with an eye injury.

The team dropped six straight before the Olympic break, but are only 2 1/2 games out of the final playoff spot.

“We’re fired up. Our record is what it is, but we feel like we have a great opportunity the second part of the season,” coach Derek Fisher said. “I think we can become a more efficient offensive team.”


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