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Hoops Happening: Today in women’s basketball (and beyond) — Friday May 25, 2018

The Ogwumike sisters put on a show last night as the Connecticut Sun battled the LA Sparks for a 102-94 win. But it was Chiney who showed the world what people mean by the term Black Girl Magic.

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adidas Creates 747 Warehouse St. in Los Angeles - An Event in Basketball Culture
Chiney Ogwumike (R) of the WNBA Connecticut Sun poses with Jamal Murray (L) of the NBA’s Denver Nuggets at an Adidas event in Los Angeles on Feb. 17, 2018.
Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for adidas

The battle between the LA Sparks and Connecticut Sun — with sisters Nneka and Chiney going head-to-head — lived up to its promises. It was a close game for all four quarters until the Sun managed to pull away in the fourth quarter by scoring 37 points to the Sparks’ 20.

LA’s Chelsea Gray was the game-high scorer with 21 points, and teammate Odyssey Sims was right behind her with 20 points and 7 rebounds. Nneka Ogwumike, the 2016 WNBA MVP, scored 19 points while Essence Carson chipped in 15.

For the Sun, Chiney Ogwumike scored a team-high 18 points. But her teammates helped her out, with Alyssa Thomas, Courtney Williams, Jasmine Thomas and Shekinna Stricklen each contributing double digits.

With the dominant play by Gray, Sims, N. Ogwumike and Carson, the Sparks could have snagged the win in Sun territory even with Candace Parker still out due to a back injury. Therefore, this should be considered a big win by the Sun because they seized the opportunity to snag a win from a diminished Parker-less LA Sparks’ team.

Chiney Ogwumike: A study in Black Girl Magic

The Connecticut Sun’s win over the LA Sparks is not just a big deal for fans, but for the Ogwumike clan, too. It marks the first time in Chiney’s WNBA career that she has stolen a win against sister Nneka.

But there was something else truly magical and otherworldly about last night’s coverage, and it came in the form of Chiney waving her wand and performing Black Girl Magic with the highest degree of excellence.

Exhibit A

Chiney contributes 18 points towards the Sun’s 102-94 victory over the Sparks (and sister Nneka).

Black Girl Magic: The evidence

Chiney waves magic wand ...

Poof!

Black Girl Magic is harnessed and Chiney transforms into something else ...

Exhibit B

The Stanford graduate, who recently signed a multi-platform broadcasting deal with ESPN, does her sports analyst thing by conducting a postgame interview with her sister — so. impeccably. well.

The woman literally got the win on the court, sauntered over to the broadcasting booth still in her uniform and interviewed her sister with levels of poise and moxie not seen in many broadcasters who have been doing this longer than she has been alive.

This, friends, is called Black Girl Magic.

Igbo excellence

The Ogwumike story is also an immigrant story. It is a tale of how one family turned the American Dream into an American Reality through hard work, education and adherence to certain values.

It is also a tale of two first-generation Nigerian-American sisters who blazed trails in collegiate and professional basketball by defying cultural norms.

Nigerian novels worth reading today

Any chance to name-drop books shall be seized! Here are a few truly amazing works of fiction by Nigerian and Nigerian-American authors:

  • GraceLand — Chris Abani
  • Half of a Yellow Sun — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Things Fall Apart — Chinua Achebe

Game results

The Washington Mystics also played last night and got another win over the Indiana Fever behind Elena Delle Donne’s 26 points and 10 rebounds. Although this is yet another loss for the Fever (and an 0-4 start to the season), Kelsey Mitchell came up big, finishing with 25 points. Candice Dupree, meanwhile, did Dupree-esqe things by scoring 21 points and grabbing 7 rebounds. This is certainly something for Indiana to build on.

Today’s games

Other happenings in women’s hoops

Of course, Chelsea Gray of the LA Sparks made the Play of the Night!

Gray has cemented herself as the front runner for the 2018 WNBA Most Improved Player award.

Fans duel, win cash

According to a press release from FanDuel, interest in the site’s WNBA contests has climbed dramatically over last year, the league’s first in its partnership with the gaming site. The number of unique players jumped 118%, while the number of total entries increased a whopping 204%.

It will be interesting to learn the demographics of these players at some point, and whether those who are there for the gaming aspects will cross over into WNBA arenas. But the WNBA deal with FanDuel can only be considered a good thing for a league in dogged pursuit of new markets.

FanDuel now offers single-game contests so that “every WNBA game will have a daily fantasy component,” according to the company’s press release. Fans can enter by going to www.fanduel.com/WNBA.


Links Appeal

  • Chiney Ogwumike’s schedule as a full-time WNBA player and ESPN analyst redefines the term “multitasking.” Many people struggle to do one job with efficiency and excellence, while she’s dominating in two professions before the heavy public stare.
  • Former player Valerie Still has released a memoir called Playing Black & Blue: Still I Rise. Still still holds the titles for leading scorer and leading rebounder in University of Kentucky history. (Yes, of all basketball players, men and women, to ever play at the school.)
  • Foot Locker comes with the proof circa 2011 that women’s basketball kicks sell and sell well. Hey, Nike, Adidas, Under Armor, etc. ... we’re waiting, with cash in hand!
  • In advance of Pride month in June, Nike’s BE TRUE collection is here. The design is all soul and symbolism.
  • Champ Staley is making a major claim to fame. Someone, get this pooch an agent! He belongs in movies.
  • Dawn Staley won her defamation lawsuit against Mizzou coach Jim Sterk, who issued an apology after the ruling. Staley disclosed she will donate half of the $50,000 settlment to INNERSOLE, her non-profit organization, and the rest will be used to cover her legal bills.

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