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Veteran Nurse ready for new opportunity with Sparks ahead of WNBA game in Edmonton


Kia Nurse is ready to have a bounce back season in 2024 with the Los Angeles Sparks.

After missing the 2022 season recovering from an ACL injury that she suffered during the 2021 playoffs with the Phoenix Mercury, Nurse signed a two-year deal with the Seattle Storm in 2023 as a free agent.

Nurse would spend just one season in Seattle though, as she was dealt to the Sparks along with the fourth overall pick in the 2024 draft on Jan. 31.

The 28-year-old struggled offensively with the Storm last season, averaging a career-low 5.9 points with just under 20 minutes of playing time per game.

The Sparks are still in a rebuilding phase, but recently drafted college stars Cameron Brink (Stanford) and Rickea Jackson (Tennessee) with the second- and fourth-overall picks respectively, and have former South Carolina star Zia Cooke on the roster.

Nurse knows her leadership and veteran presence will be relied upon in Los Angeles and is ready to start that next chapter of her WNBA career.  

“I’m excited about that and that opportunity to just be out here and get on the board and play better than I played last year,” Nurse said in a media conference call. “Ultimately I’m more hard on myself than anybody else could be possibly and I know that so [I’m] giving myself a little bit of grace for last year but wanting to be a lot better than I was.”

Since being drafted 10th overall by the New York Liberty in 2018, the Hamilton, Ont., native is now joining her fourth team in four seasons and considers each stop a building block and a valuable learning experience on her resume.

“Ultimately every team I’m playing on is an opportunity to play in the WNBA and there’s only 144 of those opportunities so I’m going to take each and every one of those and be grateful for it,” said Nurse.

With her knee stronger, Nurse wants to return to being a player that can be more dynamic in the offensive end but also solid defensively. Calling herself a bully in the paint earlier in her career, she wants to get more involved in that area of the game.  

“[I think] just being a versatile guard, playing multiple guard positions, and using my strength and my size, knocking down the three-ball a little more,” said Nurse of her role.

“But my defence is something I know that I can technically rely on a lot and a lot of it is just effort and playing angles and playing tendencies and feeling better in my knee’s ability to move laterally this year, I think will give me a little bit more of an opportunity there.”

Nurse’s preseason debut with the Sparks will happen in Edmonton, where they will tip off against the Storm at Rogers Place on May 4. Nurse has a long history with the city, having spent time there participating in national team camps, as well as visiting brother Darnell, a defenceman for the NHL’s Oilers.

Last year’s preseason contest between the Chicago Sky and Minnesota Lynx at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto was the first time the WNBA held a game in Canada and it was a resounding success. The game sold out and all merchandise was purchased before halftime. Lynx player Bridget Carleton, who hails from Chatham, Ont., was the centre of attention as the first-ever Canadian to play a WNBA game in Canada.

Nurse, who previously played her senior homecoming game as a member of the UConn Huskies in Toronto back in 2017, is excited for the chance to play in her home country again and in a city where she has deep ties.

“I’m really grateful for this opportunity because I think we saw the demand and the want for women’s basketball, especially in that Toronto game,” said Nurse. “And I think people forget a lot of times how large Canada actually really is and sometimes we don't often get to [the west coast] of it so I’m excited for that opportunity.

“For me playing in Edmonton, I thought that was just something full circle from that really young age of being there with the national team to now being hopefully in the prime of my career and enjoy that and have the opportunity to do that with some family members around which is the best part about it.”