'It's offensive': Andrew Gaze rips Liz Cambage over 'disgusting' act

Liz Cambage, Andrew Gaze and Jenna O'Hea at the 2009/10 Basketball Australia Awards Night.  (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Liz Cambage, Andrew Gaze and Jenna O'Hea at the 2009/10 Basketball Australia Awards Night. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Australian basketball legend Andrew Gaze has expressed his shock over comments from Liz Cambage that she wasn't supported in the Opals set-up, labelling some of her behaviour as "disgusting".

Cambage has found herself back in the spotlight this week after former Opals captain Jenna O'Hea confirmed reports of what Cambage said to spark a nasty altercation during a game against Nigeria last year.

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Cambage was independently investigated at the time and issued a formal reprimand, before withdrawing from the Opals' side for the Tokyo Olympics and vowing to never play for Australia again.

Speaking on the ABC's 'Offsiders' program on Sunday, retired Opals great O'Hea confirmed host Kelli Underwood's claim that Cambage "turned to them (Nigerian players) and said 'go back to your third world country'."

"Ezi Magbegor is originally Nigerian and a Nigerian who is now living in Australia and playing for your team, and as a result there was a brawl that erupted and since then you haven’t spoken to her?” Underwood asked.

O'Hea replied: "That is all one hundred per cent correct."

On Monday, Australian basketball great Andrew Bogut - who has had a long-running feud with Cambage - claimed her comment was actually a lot worse.

"You've just got the PG version, there was much more than that - I'm just glad someone's come out and said it," Bogut told 2GB radio.

"It was beyond despicable. There's much more in there that you can't say on radio ... there's some other words that you can never repeat, that I'd never even say, to be honest with you."

Cambage was earlier asked about her move to Los Angeles to play for the Sparks in the WNBL and took a shot at Basketball Australia.

"I'm living my best life. I'm supported, I'm protected on a level that the Opals or the Australian team never gave to me," she told the program.

"My heart lies with those who want to protect me and those who want me to be the best I can be, and I never felt that at the Opals at all. So yeah, I'm good."

Liz Cambage, pictured here speaking to reporters at a Los Angeles Sparks media day.
Liz Cambage speaks to reporters at a Los Angeles Sparks media day. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)

Andrew Gaze blasts 'disgusting' Liz Cambage behaviour

Addressing the furore on Monday, Gaze was left seething about Cambage's comments.

"Above and beyond (the Nigeria comments), the thing that really, really grates at me is when she makes the comments to say she feels supported in Los Angeles at a level that wasn't there with the Australian team and the suggestion that she was never supported by Australia, the Opals or Basketball Australia. That is highly offensive," Gaze said on SEN radio.

"There was some behaviour that Liz had that under any reasonable judgement, there would have been some significant repercussions.

"She was supported - not just by me, but by others along the way… to say that she wasn't supported is unfair, it is grossly unfair, and I have great sympathy and compassion for where she was at that point in time, and there may have been some confusion about where (she) needs to be, her schedule, her timetable - all those things that are there.

"But the bottom line (is) she made some decisions that didn't support her teammates. Yet, despite that, her teammates supported her during that time.

Andrew Gaze, pictured here during the 2020 Andrew Gaze MVP and Awards Night.
Andrew Gaze speaks during the 2020 Andrew Gaze MVP and Awards Night. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

"Now the problem is, in her mind, she didn't think she was letting anyone down, and I'm talking about whether you show up to prepare to represent your country.

"The suggestion on this particular incident and others that her teammates, her coaches, Basketball Australia or anyone wasn't supporting her - that is offensive.

"That is offensive to people who are going out of their way to try and put in place a system where she can actually perform to her best - and it takes two."

The former Boomers captain described some of Cambage's behaviour as "disgusting".

"You don't get paid for representing your country, or very, very little. That's not your sole source of income," he said.

"It's about honour, it's about privilege, it's about a sense of responsibility, it's about looking at your life and seeing how other people have provided you a privileged opportunity to perform to the highest level... when you don't respect that and, in fact, when you go the other way and say these people have actually harmed me - that is disgusting behaviour by her.

"It is offensive to me, it's offensive to anyone who's represented our country that that's her position."

with AAP

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