Sparks' Derek Fisher 'Pissed' Nneka Ogwumike Was Left Off Team USA's Olympic Roster

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJune 22, 2021

AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

Los Angeles Sparks head coach Derek Fisher voiced his frustration with USA Basketball's decision to omit Sparks star Nneka Ogwumike from the final roster for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Fisher told reporters Tuesday he and the organization were "pissed" about the news.

"The thing about Nneka is nothing has to be given to her," he said. "She earned it. She deserves it. That's the most frustrating and disappointing part. That's the part that makes you angry the most."

Sparks star Chiney Ogwumike echoed the sentiment, listing her older sister's accolades and noting the 2016 WNBA MVP was under the impression she was doing everything required to get selected:

Chiney Ogwumike @chiney

✔️WNBA MVP &amp; Champion in 2016 (last Olympic year)<br>✔️6x All-Star <br>✔️4x All-WNBA<br>✔️4x WNBA All-Defensive Team <br>✔️2x FIBA World Cup Gold Medalist<br>✔️ No. 1 pick &amp; ROY<br>✔️Euroleague Champion<br>✔️WNBPA President<br>✔️oh, and she is one of few who went to every Team USA camp the last 5 years pic.twitter.com/iEzDduj4Kj

The older Ogwumike has been limited to five games during the 2021 season and was diagnosed with a left knee sprain earlier in the month. However, Fisher said he was "calling BS" on that as a justification for leaving the 30-year-old out.

Brady Klopfer @BradyKlopferNBA

Fisher says that both Nneka and the Sparks trainer spoke with team USA about the injury and timeline.<br><br>"I know for sure that what was said was the timeline was OK."

That line of reasoning also doesn't make sense because Phoenix Mercury star Diana Taurasi made the cut. She hasn't played since May 21 because of a fractured sternum.

Over the past three seasons, the 39-year-old guard is also averaging 15.3 points on 37.2 percent shooting while putting up 4.6 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game. That production is solid but not exceptional relative to others in the U.S. Olympic pool.

During the same span, Ogwumike is shooting 53.2 percent while averaging 15.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists.

Devereaux Peters, who spent six seasons in the WNBA, provided a series of tweets explaining why this situation is a microcosm of what many believe to be larger issues within USA Basketball:

Devereaux *casual fan* Peters @MsPeters14

Let's go back to 2012. Y'all got SIX UConn players on that team and a coach who happens to be from where? Oh. Even some of my friends that played at UConn were confused af by that roster. But it's not politics right????

Devereaux *casual fan* Peters @MsPeters14

Next up would mean the post player that's been busting ass in the best league in the world the last 4 years. Rookie of the year, 3x all-star, 1x All defensive team right?!?! WRONG. We're gonna take the rookie who's feet barely wet in the league.....

Devereaux *casual fan* Peters @MsPeters14

Now it's "people expected her to be on the team cuz of what she did in college, she was so big there's no way we could've kept her off." pic.twitter.com/U8UkdWnsPl

Devereaux *casual fan* Peters @MsPeters14

F the fact that Nneka been busting ass all this time IN THE WNBA. F the fact that it was just a continuation of what she did in college. It's not politics though right??

Ogwumike is 15th all-time in win shares (51.8) and a six-time All-Star, and she had one of the best seasons ever in 2016 en route to winning MVP. By the time she retires, the power forward will be thought of as one of the greatest players of her era.

The fact that she hasn't been positioned to earn a gold medal in the Olympics is a head-scratcher, and the sting of her snub this year is magnified because she may not get another crack at the Olympic team given her age.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.