On May 26th, the LA Sparks traded for second year F/C Kristine Anigwe in exchange for the Dallas Wings’ second round pick in the 2021 draft. Kristine held a press conference Thursday afternoon to talk about the next step in her WNBA career and her overall experience in the W thus far. She was ecstatic and borderline giddy as she talked with media from several outlets about her new opportunity.
Anigwe checked off a few boxes by getting traded to the Sparks. First, she made her way back to Cali. After starring for the Cal Bears in college, she was drafted to the Connecticut Sun. If sure she didn’t appreciate going from sunny California to the harsh weather of the upper Northeast region. Second, she gets to play with Chiney Ogwumike, who she’s had a close relationship with since college. The Cal-Stanford connection allowed them to develop a mentor-mentee bond and she’s leaned on Chiney for advice throughout her career. She JUST missed playing with Ogwumike in Connecticut so I’m sure she’s excited to catch up with her in LA. And last but not least, she gets to play for the team she grew up cheering for. This is what every young athlete dreams of.
Oh and if that wasn’t enough, she gets to play alongside her hero, Candace Parker. Kristine has been a huge fan of Parker forever and got the greatest draft day present when Candace surprised her with a congratulatory video shortly after she was selected 9th overall in last year’s draft.
Anigwe has had a unique experience in the league so far. She’s on her third teaming she’s just beginning her second year. But her journey has helped her gain knowledge and insight beyond her years. She walked right into the W into a championship minded situation as the Sun were mere minutes away from a WNBA title last season. Although she didn’t finish her rookie campaign in Connecticut, she spent enough time there to know what the expectations are and how to conduct yourself. Even though her playing time was scarce, she earned her stripes in practice battling against Jonquel Jones, Shekinna Stricklen and Alyssa Thomas. If you know anything about those ladies, I’m sure you can imagine how those practices went.
Kristine spending time with a contender will undoubtedly help her in LA. The Sparks are clearly gearing up for a title run. With Anigwe already having been in that environment, she knows what to expect. On the other hand her time in Dallas, although extremely brief, showed her a different aspect of the league. The Wings were a young team without lofty expectations. Anigwe said that gave them the opportunity to play freely, make mistakes and find themselves as pros. This is very important with younger players as the learning curve is already huge when transitioning from college. The sooner you can get comfortable and find your footing the sooner you can develop and learn the pro game. It’s hard to do that when you feel your coach hovering over you with each misstep. Championship teams don’t have leeway for trial runs.
Kristine is excited and thankful to be in LA. With all the uncertainty in the world right now, she acknowledges that it’s a blessing to occupy one of the 144 spots in the league. It’s tough to earn a job without the added restrictions of a worldwide pandemic. She didn’t know what to expect with everything that’s going on but I’m sure she didn’t think she’d end up in her dream destination. The Sparks traded for Anigwe and immediately cut their roster to twelve. As I said before, championship contenders don’t have much room for “Let’s see what you can do.” They obviously feel Kristine can contribute.
Anigwe, just like the rest of us, is eager to get things started. She stated that she’s trying to soak up as much game from the legends and vets she’ll be surrounded by in LA. And when her time comes, she’ll be ready. We’re excited to see what Kristine brings to her new team whenever they’re able to check ball in the W.