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Nneka Ogwumike, Candace Parker, Lisa Leslie among WNBA’s 25 most influential players

Nneka Ogwumike and Tiffany Mitchell vie for the ball.
Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike drives on Indiana Fever guard Tiffany Mitchell during the first half in Indianapolis on Tuesday.
(Michael Conroy / Associated Press)

Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike and former Sparks stars Candace Parker and Lisa Leslie are included in the WNBA’s W25, a list of the 25 greatest and most influential players in the league’s 25-year history.

The WNBA announced the elite group on Sunday, with 10 current players making the list that was compiled by select media members and women’s basketball pioneers. A group of 72 nominees was whittled down to 25. Candidates needed to have played for a WNBA team for at least two seasons and meet four of the following seven criteria:

  • Won a major individual award.
  • Selected to either the all-WNBA first team or all-WNBA second team.
  • Selected to either the WNBA all-defensive first team or WNBA all-defensive second team.
  • Selected to the WNBA All-Star Game.
  • Member of a WNBA championship team.
  • Currently ranked among the top 40 career leaders in at least one major statistical category.
  • Recipient of the WNBA’s season-long community assist award.

Ogwumike was the only nominee to meet all seven criteria.

“I am so grateful to have my name listed amongst past and present legends who’ve pioneered the W over these amazing 25 years,” Ogwumike said in a statement released by the league. “As an athlete on the court, I’m proud of my career and hope to continue to leave a legacy of greatness. What I’ve been able to contribute to the game along with the phenomenal women of this league through generations is one of my greatest accomplishments. Being recognized for any impact I’ve made is a true honor.”

Brionna Jones had 16 points and 15 rebounds, and the WNBA-leading Connecticut Sun won their eighth consecutive game, beating the Sparks 76-61.

Ogwumike, who is also the president of the Women’s National Basketball Players Assn., was named rookie of the year in 2012 and is a five-time all-WNBA and all-defensive-team selection. The six-time all-star won the 2018 community assist award, and her 4,518 regular-season points rank 28th in WNBA history. She won the most valuable player award in 2016 while leading the Sparks to the WNBA title alongside Parker, who spent the first 13 years of her WNBA career in L.A. before going to the Chicago Sky this season.

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Parker is a two-time MVP, nine-time all-star and the reigning defensive player of the year. She was the first WNBA player to win rookie of the year and MVP in the same year, doing so while playing with Leslie, who was one of the WNBA’s original players.

Candace Parker dribbles the ball on court.
Chicago Sky’s Candace Parker starts the fast break during the second half against the Connecticut Sun on June 17 in Chicago.
(Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press)

Leslie won two championships with the Sparks, and her 12 all-WNBA selections are tied for the second-most in league history. She is a three-time MVP and two-time defensive player of the year.

Lisa Leslie and Rebecca Lobo jostle on court.
Sparks’ Lisa Leslie and the New York Liberty’s Rebecca Lobo battle for rebound position during the first half at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood on June 21, 1997.
(Kevork Djansezian / Associated Press)

The list also includes current Sparks assistant coach Seimone Augustus, who won four WNBA titles with the Minnesota Lynx before joining the Sparks for one season as a player in 2020.

Fans can now pick the greatest player of all time through an online “Vote for the GOAT” campaign. Fans can vote at WNBA.com/goatvote, on the WNBA app, or on Twitter with their favorite player’s name and #WNBAGoatVote.

“GOATs come in different shapes and sizes, and all I can say is I’m humbled to be in some type of conversation in that regard,” Ogwumike said last month when asked about the campaign. “But I also do know that there are some phenomenal women that play in this league and have played in this league that contribute to how I model myself as a player and teammate.”

The full W25:

  • Seimone Augustus
  • Sue Bird
  • Swin Cash
  • Tamika Catchings
  • Tina Charles
  • Cynthia Cooper
  • Elena Delle Donne
  • Sylvia Fowles
  • Yolanda Griffith
  • Brittney Griner
  • Becky Hammon
  • Lauren Jackson
  • Lisa Leslie
  • Angel McCoughtry
  • Maya Moore
  • Nneka Ogwumike
  • Candace Parker
  • Ticha Penicheiro
  • Cappie Pondexter
  • Katie Smith
  • Breanna Stewart
  • Sheryl Swoopes
  • Diana Taurasi
  • Tina Thompson
  • Lindsay Whalen

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