The Los Angeles Sparks can be with out two of their prime gamers when the WNBA season begins in Bradenton, Fla. Chiney Ogwumike and Kristi Toliver are opting out of the 2020 season, the group introduced on Friday.
All 10 different Sparks gamers, together with Candace Parker, will reportedly play this season, according to SB Nation’s Brad Klopfer.
“If you recognize me, you recognize that I’ve overcome among the greatest challenges an athlete can face on the court docket,” Ogwumike stated in a press release. “My earlier accidents have given me power and constructed character, however sadly they require me to watch out with my preparation main as much as a season. This yr is unprecedented in some ways, subsequently my group and I’ve come to the choice to be proactively cautious and put my physique first.
“I’ll proceed to make use of all my platforms to raise and empower my teammates and fellow gamers within the WNBA as we proceed to struggle for our communities. This is not goodbye, it is simply goodbye.”
Ogwumike joined the Sparks in a commerce previous to the 2019 season. Final yr, she averaged 9.6 factors and 5.eight rebounds in 32 video games (14 begins).
“The well being and security of our gamers and employees is the primary precedence for our group,” Managing Accomplice and Governor Eric Holoman stated. “We fully stand behind Chiney’s choice to prioritize her well being and proceed the work she’s doing to struggle for systemic change.”
Toliver signed with the Sparks as a free agent this offseason after spending the previous three years with the Washington Mystics. She’s been an All-Star every of the previous two seasons, and averaged 13 factors and 5.9 assists per recreation in 2019.
“Although I would like very a lot to compete with my group, to be a frontrunner and present up for them, I’m not snug with the danger to my bodily well being – short-term and long-term – given the various unknowns of COVID-19 and the danger of harm,” Toliver stated in a assertion. “For me, the appropriate choice beneath the circumstances is to choose out for the yr.
“Throughout my time away I’ll get myself mentally and bodily ready for the 2021 season, and in mild of the various social justice points which can be lastly and rightfully entrance and heart, I’ll discover new methods to make a optimistic affect in my neighborhood.”
Toliver is a two-time WNBA champion and spent seven seasons with the Sparks from 2010-16. She’s additionally an assistant coach on the Washington Wizards’ employees.
“We’ll in fact miss having a participant of Kristi’s caliber on the court docket this season,” Sparks coach Derek Fisher stated. “Nonetheless, our complete group and training employees respects and understands her choice. I do know she’ll make an affect and be a frontrunner locally and we’ll be excited to have her again in Los Angeles subsequent season.”