The sisters Ogwumike enjoy ‘tag-teaming’ each other

The older sister heads the players union. Her younger sister, a middle child in a family of four daughters, is virtually working two jobs at the same time. Both are WNBA stars.

They are the sisters Ogwumike, Nnemkadi and Chinenye, otherwise known respectively as Nneka and Chiney. Both are multiple history-makers: first siblings as top overall draft choices – Nneka (Los Angeles, 2012) and Chiney (Connecticut, 2014); first sisters to win top rookie honors in their respective first seasons; and first sisters both selected to play in an all-star game (2014).

Nneka’s 2016 WNBA championship ring and that year’s league and finals MVP trophies are currently the only separators between the two siblings other than being on separate clubs and playing on opposite coasts. They were college teammates for two seasons at Stanford, where the Ogwumike sisters each earned all-freshman, All-American and all-conference honors during their stellar collegiate careers.

But there’s no sibling rivalry or envy play here as they are each other’s number-one fans. The Nigerian American women recently talked to reporters, including the MSR, by phone.

They have played against each other five times in the W. “It was the first time we ever played against each other ever in life,” Chiney recalled of their first encounter as pros in 2014.  Nneka chimed in: “It was exciting the first time. I’m surprised that it’s still a storyline.”

“Going up against your big sister is not easy, but we both realize we are competing for our teams,” Chiney continued. “We are both professionals and understand each other.”

Chinenye Ogwunike
Chinenye Ogwunike Photo courtesy of Twitter

Both sisters are busy off the court as well: Nneka in 2016 was elected to a three-year term as WNBA Players Association president. Chiney is vice-president.

The younger Ogwumike last month signed a multi-year deal with ESPN as a multi-platform commentator, which includes co-hosting SportsCenter Africa; studio analyst for NBA, WNBA and women’s college basketball; and regular appearances on ESPN Radio and ESPN.com. She has been a studio co-host on the network’s African version of its flagship show since 2017.

“I’ve been fortunate and blessed” to be at ESPN, which is located in Bristol, Conn., about an hour from where she plays for the Sun, Chiney pointed out. “It is a joy for me to [have] a professional life outside of sports. It’s the best opportunity and it feels just right. Talking sports on ESPN is a dream come true.”

“If she is not playing basketball, she’s talking about it,” Nneka said proudly. “It’s fun to see her forge her way. As a big sister, I’m proud to see what an impact she makes on and off the court. She’s like a superwoman. It’s freaky.”

“Our journey always has been about tag-teaming each other,” Chiney said. “Nneka and I really try to use our platforms for good. We can only look forward to the future as far as our outreach goes.”

About Charles Hallman

Charles Hallman is a contributing writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. He can be reached at challman@spokesman-recorder.com

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