Staggering new details emerge after Liz Cambage's messy WNBA split

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Pictured right, Liz Cambage during her playing days with the Los Angeles Sparks in the WNBA.
Liz Cambage's choice of playing number reportedly 'ruffled feathers' at the Los Angeles Sparks. Pic: Getty

Startling new details have come to light around WNBA star Liz Cambage's messy exit from the Los Angeles Sparks, with reports the 'divorce' between both parties was a long time coming.

The Sparks announced on Tuesday that they'd agreed to a 'contract divorce' with the 30-year-old Cambage after the Aussie star played just 25 games for the team.

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"It is with support that we share Liz Cambage's decision to terminate her contract with the organisation," managing partner Eric Holoman said in a statement.

"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 Yahoo Sports basketball reporter Chris Haynes, issues between the team and Cabbage were already evident before the WNBA season even began.

According to Haynes, sources say Cambage "ruffled feathers within the locker room" at the Sparks over what number she would wear for the team.

Cambage requested to wear the No. 8, but the Sparks informed her the number would be retired to honour DeLisha Milton-Jones.

It's understood Cambage then asked for No. 1 shirt that belonged to forward Amanda Zahui B.

Sources say former Sparks head coach Derek Fisher approached Zahui B. about giving the number to Cambage and she politely declined, explaining the number meant a lot to her.

Cambage still wanted the number. Time went by, and sources say management eventually made the call to give the number to the new starting centre.

Zahui B. learned her number was given away via social media, sources say.

According to Kristina Williams of 'Girls Talk Sports TV', Cambage had 'chemistry issues' with her teammates as early as late May.

Williams tweeted on Tuesday that Cambage 'quit' the team and had "made verbal comments about her intentions to leave the Sparks to multiple people within the organisation."

She added: "I would like to clarify that this tweet isn’t directly related to the reason why Liz Cambage and the Sparks parted ways.

Interim head coach Fred Williams also said Cambage struggled with conditioning and facing double- and triple-team matchups.

She recently missed games after a bout with Covid-19 and was listed as out for "return to competition conditioning."

Liz Cambage was rocked by Nigeria scandal

Reported discord dating back to May would also line up with when video of Cambage calling Nigerian national team players racial slurs last summer first went public.

Cambage left the Australian national team before the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 for mental health reasons. However, it came out after her departure that Cambage used racially insensitive remarks toward players on the Nigerian team during a practice season and even physically assaulted a few players, according to Australian news outlets. Cambage denied these claims.

Liz Cambage warms up before a game with the Los Angeles Sparks. (Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)
Liz Cambage warms up before a game with the Los Angeles Sparks. (Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)

The video and more detailed reports came out in late May, weeks after the WNBA season started. The video shows her hitting a post player hard with an elbow.

She allegedly called the Nigerian team "monkeys" and told them "go back to your third-world country" during the incident in a private scrimmage.

Cambage denied the allegations in an Instagram post that has since been deleted. In it, she said she was "physically assaulted" by a Nigerian player after an unintentional foul.

Adding to the controversy was the fact two of Cambage's teammates at the Sparks - Nneka Ogwumike and Chiney Ogwumike - are both Nigerian Americans.

Their parents were born in Nigeria and the Ogwumike daughters hold dual citizenship.

Coincidentally, Cambage's own father is of Nigerian descent as well, while Cambage's mother is from Australia.

Following her messy exit from the Sparks, there is a very real possibility that Cambage has played her last game in the WNBA after insisting it was "L.A. or out for me" when she signed with the team.

Cambage averaged 13 points and 6.4 rebounds per game this season for Los Angeles.

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