“It is with support that we share Liz Cambage’s decision to terminate her contract with the organisation,” Sparks managing partner Eric Holoman said. “We want what’s best for Liz and have agreed to part ways amicably. The Sparks remain excited about our core group and are focused on our run towards a 2022 playoff berth.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, interim head coach Fred Williams said Cambage struggled with conditioning and facing double and triple-team match-ups. Girl Talk Sports TV reported Cambage revealed her intentions to leave the Sparks to multiple people within the organisation, and that chemistry issues amongst Los Angeles players had reportedly been a problem for months.
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It’s unclear how much of a role allegations she used a racial slur towards Nigerian players during a warm-up game for Opals played in the deterioration her relationship with teammates, but it’s understood it did put some offside.
Former Opals captain Jenna O’Hea confirmed in May Cambage had told the Nigerian players: “Go back to your third world country” while other reports stated she referred to her opponents as “monkeys”, which Cambage denied.
Cambage received support from her Sparks teammates when those reports surfaced but several basketball pundits shared a clip of a press conference from last week, where she is sitting next to teammates, Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike.
The Ogwumike sisters, who are Nigerian and viewed as star players of the league, can be seen sitting uncomfortably and even rolling their eyes as Cambage speaks about her return from her third bout of COVID-19.
Lincoln Anthony Blades tweeted: “Let’s just call it what it is: the Sparks signed Liz Cambage without notifying their star players (Nneka & Chiney — both Nigerian who KNEW what she did) because they didn’t really give a shit about/didn’t investigate her beef with the Nigerian team.”
SB Nation’s Brad Klopfer wrote: “Would assume that Cambage has played her last game in the WNBA, which is a bummer … love her or hate her, she’s unquestionably been one of the most entertaining players and personalities in league history.”
Speaking to the LA Times, the team’s interim coach Williams said Cambage opted to leave.
“I have to respect what she wants,” said Williams.
“Once a person gives you that verbally what she wants, you have to listen because it could be something else, could be something that’s not related to basketball.”
Reports claim the agreement to part ways saw Cambage paid $203,000 — “a pro-rated portion of the deal she signed in the off-season, based on how long she was on the roster.”
Cambage, 30, has yet to address the news, which came the same day rumours emerged that she reportedly “quit” the team.
Cambage’s PR partner denied chemistry issues with teammates, saying it didn’t play a role in Cambage’s split from the Sparks.
Cambage was the second overall pick by the Tulsa Shock in 2011, but has played in only five WNBA seasons. She sat out 2012 to prepare for the London Olympics with the Australian team and took a four-year hiatus from the league (2014-17) because she didn’t want to play in Tulsa. The franchise moved to Dallas in 2016 and she returned to the league in 2018.
She played one season for the Wings before being traded to the Aces in 2019. She also didn’t play during the 2020 bubble season. Cambage came to Los Angeles in the offseason, saying it was where she always wanted to play.
Last month, Phoenix and Tina Charles parted ways. The veteran Charles now plays for the Seattle Storm.
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