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Nneka Ogwumike Embraces Her First Moment With Jay-Z & Paul Rivera
By Khari Jones Jr., Contributing Writer
Published May 27, 2021

L.A. Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike (Courtesy photo)

Los Angeles Sparks star Nneka Ogwumike looks forward to great basketball this season, and she’s hyped about seeing fans in the arena.

Outside of starring in Space Jam, Nneka’s favorite recent experience was sitting in a room with Jay-Z and Paul Rivera as they recorded an episode of HBO’s ‘The Shop,’ their first production since the pandemic started.

Nneka stated how powerful it was to sit in the room with like-minded people with passionate backgrounds. “It was a fun time, honestly, and to learn about what makes people great, and for me, that was such an honor.”

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To be featured on The Shop and advocate for women is a role Nneka doesn’t take lightly. She says, “It shows not only representation, but it gives a voice to women who are involved in sports. It can be on The Shop, It can be a Saweetie music video, or it can be Chiney broadcasting.”

Representation matters to women in sports. Nneka is a voice for women, and she’s leading by demonstration. “Not just for us to be seen but to be heard is really huge. I’m hoping it continues to grow both individually and collectively for women in sports and women in general as we look to grow.”

Head coach Derek Fisher believes Nneka is ‘one of one.’ He understands she is transcending the WNBA and becoming the voice in women’s basketball. “I think it’s that she’s on one of the highest platforms out there because that’s where she belongs.I know she fits right with the guys. I look forward to the episode when it comes out.”

Recently, Nneka and WNBPA held a few social justice council meetings to educate themselves about the justice system. The union has been active in bringing change to democracy when it comes to the original people.

“We love to educate ourselves. We look forward to educating ourselves and making the change we want to see. It is imperative to constantly be aware of what’s going on.”

The Sparks had a week off after the first couple of games, and it was ‘strange’ according to Nneka. She noted that the Sparks is using it to their advantage to get some practice games in. “It allowed us to look in the mirror and see where we are about to go with this,” says Nneka.

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Since Nneka joined the Sparks in 2012, she says their games have consistently been spaced out. She said it seems a little more exaggerated this year with two games in two weeks. The Sparks are staying positive and using it to their benefit.

Fisher says there are pros and cons to spaced-out games. He notes, “Having the opportunity to study film and talk through things. Those things are positive.

Sparks rookie Arella Guirantes says Nneka inspires her by the way she carries herself on and off the court. “It’s contagious. It makes you want to be a better player and person. Seeing how hard she works, how she takes care of her body, and all her good habits. If I don’t have it. I’m trying to incorporate them more.”

Guirantes said that it’s great for the masses to hear women’s voices instead of forming their own opinions through social media.

The young rookie is learning her role with the Sparks, and she mentions the confidence she has in her finding her identity.”Finding my identity with the team is going to be a significant factor this year.”

Categories: Basketball | Sports
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