Sparks’ Kristi Toliver, Chiney Ogwumike sitting in the Florida season

When the Los Angeles Sparks head to Florida for the modified WNBA 2020 season, they will do so without two of its biggest stars.

Both guard Kristi Toliver and forward Chiney Ogwumike were excluded from the season, the team announced Friday night.

Chiney Ogwumike goes out for medical reasons

Owgumike decided to skip the season due to medical reasons. The two-time All-Star has missed two full seasons in his career, one due to a right knee injury in 2015 and the other to an Achilles injury in 2017, and he didn’t feel like he had time to properly prepare for the

“If you know me, you know I have overcome some of the biggest challenges an athlete can face on the field,” Ogwumike said in a statement, in part. “My previous injuries have given me strength and character development, but unfortunately they require me to be careful with my preparation before a season.

“This year is unprecedented in many ways, therefore my team and I have made the decision to be proactively cautious and put my body first … As much as I want to compete and win with my sister, I know it is for the best. for me to sit at this. “

The former No. 1 overall draft pick averaged 9.6 points and 5.8 rebounds with the Sparks last season, his first with the team after starting his career with the Connecticut Sun.

Kristi Toliver out due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Toliver cited the health risks related to the COVID-19 pandemic as his main reason for staying out.

The 33-year-old averaged 13 points and 5.9 assists last season while leading the Washington Mystics to a WNBA title. She signed a three-year contract with the Sparks last offseason, returning to the team after a three-year stint with Washington.

The three-time All-Star is also an assistant coach for the Wizards.

“Although I very much want to compete with my team, be a leader and present myself to them, I am not comfortable with the risk to my physical health, in the short and long term, given the many unknowns of COVID-19 and the risk of injury”, Toliver said in a statement, in part. “For me, the right decision in these circumstances is to choose not to participate in the year.”

“During my free time, I will prepare myself mentally and physically for the 2021 season, and in light of the many social justice issues that are ultimately legitimate and central, I will find new ways to have a positive impact in my community. “

The WNBA will hold a regular season of 22 games and a standard playoff format at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, next month, about 100 miles from where the NBA will resume its season in Orlando. The league has several coronavirus-related security measures, however, just as in the NBA, there is growing concern about the plan due to the recent increase in cases in both Florida and the country.

There were more than 2.4 million confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States as of Friday night, according to The New York Times, and it was attributed nearly 125,000 deaths. The United States set a new daily all-time record on Thursday with more than 41,000 new cases as well. Florida had nearly 123,000 cases as of Friday night, and has seen more than 5,000 new cases per day twice this week, a new state record.

The two Sparks stars are the last to announce that they will opt out of the season, something WNBA players can do without penalty. Natasha Cloud of Washington and LaToya Sanders made the same decision, as did Sun star Jonquel Jones.

Kristi Toliver, who signed with the Los Angeles Sparks this offseason, helped lead the Washington Mystics to a title in October. (G Fiume / Getty Images)

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