WNBA expansion franchise Golden State hires Ohemaa Nyanin as GM

ByAlexa Philippou ESPN logo
Monday, May 6, 2024

Ohemaa Nyanin has been named the general manager of the WNBA Golden State team, the organization announced Monday.

Nyanin, who will begin her tenure on May 13, will oversee all basketball operations and report to Warriors co-executive chairman and CEO Joe Lacob. She will join president Jess Smith in ushering into the league the WNBA's 13th franchise and first expansion organization since 2008.

The team, which will play in San Francisco's Chase Center, will begin competition in 2025.

"The investment that has already been committed to building an incredible WNBA franchise is nothing short of amazing," Nyanin said in a news conference Monday. "I'm just really excited to collaborate with the current and future incredible minds to build a winning culture."

Lacob told reporters Monday that "I kind of knew when I first met her" that Nyanin was the right person for the job.

"You look for IQ and intelligence ... someone with basketball knowledge and experience and sort of a gut-level understanding of the game. And I think all of that along with sort of a cultural fit, someone that would really be able to fit within our culture, were all important aspects of this hiring process," Lacob said. "And she passed with flying colors.

"This is a tremendous hire, couldn't be more excited," Lacob said, before reiterating his previously-stated goal of winning a championship within the franchise's first five years of existence -- something the current Warriors ownership did with both their NBA and G League teams.

That sort of declaration could add pressure, but Nyanin pointed to the opportunity to learn from Lacob and other Warriors personnel as something that'll help her build a championship culture on and off the floor.

"Winning is the foundation of this organization," Nyanin said. "So why not us, and it will be us. I'm just excited to get started."

Nyanin joins Golden State following a five-year stint with the New York Liberty, most recently as assistant general manager. She also previously served as director of basketball operations and manager of basketball operations there, roles she anticipates will help her in the Bay Area.

"In addition to their talent is who they are, and so building the culture is people-first," Nyanin said regarding roster construction. "That is what I'm for sure taking from there and bringing here to build the team here."

"Ohemaa was my first call in 2019 and we have shared an unbreakable bond ever since. To say I'm ecstatic is an understatement," Liberty general manager Jonathan Kolb said in a statement. "Ohemaa effortlessly threads the needle of being authentic while graceful. She is proof positive that if you put in the work, dreams can come true. I consider myself so grateful to have the opportunity to miss someone so much. The 'Golden State' got brighter today. Go shine, O."

Nyanin's extensive basketball background also includes stints with USA Basketball as assistant director of the women's national team as well as serving as the FIBA Americas World Cup Qualifier Technical Delegate and Manager.

Golden State has yet to announce its brand identity, and an expansion draft will be held later this year to begin filling out its roster. The franchise announced last week that it has received 7,000 deposits for season tickets.

One of the most important early decisions for Nyanin will be hiring a head coach, but she said the timeline for that decision is "fluid" with a priority of hiring the best person possible.

"For the coach, I'm just looking for a person who is unafraid to embrace the unknown, that has a history of understanding the game, and just empathy and openness to grow in this space," Nyanin said.

To round out the rest of her team, Nyanin will look to "recruit the best minds, the best basketball minds, the best artistic minds, the best eclectic minds to build the strongest team in the W," she said.

Golden State will be the first of potentially multiple expansion teams joining the WNBA; commissioner Cathy Engelbert said last month the league hopes to bring in a 14th team for 2026 and expand to 16 teams by 2028.

"What brings me so much joy about taking this opportunity is that it's a blank canvas," Nyanin said, "and there are many elements that can go into building a masterpiece."