‘She called us monkeys!’: Nigerian star fires back at Cambage after basketball bombshell
Liz Cambage just dropped a basketball surprise by saying she is in talks to join the Nigerian national team and talking about her "hideous" experience at the Tokyo Olympics.
In a wide-ranging chat with Taylor Rooks of Bleacher Report, Cambage talked about claims that she used a racial slur against Nigerian players during a warm-up game for the 2021 Olympics.
Cambage pulled out of the Tokyo Olympics because she was worried about her mental health. She confirmed that she had been in a physical fight during a warm-up game and that "words were exchanged."
But she denied that racial comments were used against Nigerian players. She also said that she was "pretty annoyed at all the fake news and lies" that were being spread at the time.
Cambage talked about how she didn't want to go to the Tokyo Olympics in the first place when she was asked about the accusations and why her side of the story is so "drastically different."
Cambage said, "A lot of girls don't like me, and when I say no to something, people really try to make it seem like I'm the problem."
"I didn't want to go to that Olympics at all. I spent an entire week going into that bubble and saying that I didn't want to be in it. I'll show you text messages between me and Sandy Brondello that say, "I do not want to go to this Olympics, I do not want to be a part of this Olympics, and I do not believe in this Olympics."
"I feel like the Olympics in Tokyo are nothing like the real Olympics. Like the Olympics aren't about weird boxes but about countries coming together. I don't like bubbles. I have anxiety, so I need to be able to leave situations like that [snaps fingers]… there is so much pressure.
"This is the best sport there is. Here are the Olympic Games. I'm already having trouble with my mind and body. Everything I say is open and true… When I got to the team, I found out that my counsellor, who was the most important person for me to have there, had been kicked off. We won't send a therapist to the Olympics, right? I don't want to be involved.
"The Olympics are the one place where I need help with my mind. It's the situation that puts the most pressure on everyone. I won't just sit on the bench at the Olympics. You want me to lead this group. I do those things. Hop on my back and let's go. I'll take you to a medal.
"I'm already coming to the coach and captain at rock bottom, dealing with relationship drama, Vegas drama, and All-Star team drama."
Cambage later agreed to a "contract divorce" with the Los Angeles Sparks WNBA team in 2022. She said she was upset with how her image and character have been hurt.
Cambage said, "I think it's really sick and twisted that because I didn't want to be on my team for the Olympics, you want to ruin my image and reputation."
"It's like having to deal with strange exes. Why do you want to talk to me?"
When asked again about the claims that he used racial slurs towards Nigerian basketball players, Cambage said that tapes of the event should be made public so that everyone can "see the truth."
"This one girl who has been saying, 'I called them pigs,'… You'll be called a b***h. I will call you an idiot. "That's what I tell people when I'm mad at them," Cambage said.
"I usually don't use racial comments. I don't do things that way. I support Black people a lot. These are not things I said. This girl who is saying all these things about me had a lot to say.
"Leak the recordings. The tapes have never been mine. Give the tapes out. If you want to know the truth, make sure the tapes get out. "Leak the tapes, everyone in Australia who has seen the tapes and is still lying about what is on them."
When asked why "something as bad as this" would happen, Cambage said it would be easier to make her the "scapegoat" to protect the interests of other groups.
"The truth looks a lot worse for other organisations involved than using me as a scapegoat," she said, but she didn't say who these organisations were before saying she was in talks with the Nigerian national team.
"Like, why does Nigeria want me to leave Australia and work for them? We are asking that I be taken off the Australian team so that I can play for Nigeria. Since all of this happened, I've been in league with them and talking to them.
People don't know the truth, and this is what I mean. I swear, not a single reporter who wrote all these lies has ever come to me to hear my side of the story. There is a whole tape full of the truth.
"I want people to know. Get the word out. I've never had it before. When everything happened, I didn't even have it. I couldn't even use it to protect myself. I had to hire lawyers in order to get a tape of my own attack."
Cambage also said later that she had not told Nigerian players to "go back to their third-world country" but had instead said something else.
"When this whole thing happened, a teacher tried to say, "You said this," but I said, "I didn't say that." I went to apologise to people and told them, "I don't say these things. "I don't know if you guys are deaf, but I didn't say that," Cambage said.
"I didn't want these Games to take place. I think I had just been hit, and I was sitting on a bench drinking when I said, "We should all go back to our f***ing countries." We should all just go home." I didn't say anything about third-world countries, call anyone an animal, or use the N-word.
Promise Amukamara, a basketball player from Nigeria, went on social media to dispute Cambage's claims. She said it is "false" that she is in talks to play for Nigeria in the Olympics.
"She told us we were monkeys and to go back to our country. She did say that!" Amukamara said this.
"Practically everyone on both teams has the same story EXCEPT for her, so do the maths! The only person she was in "cahoots" with was the old coach of our national team, who is no longer the coach, so that's that!"
When asked what she would say to anyone who still doesn't believe her after the talk with Bleacher Report, Cambage called again for the tapes to be made public.
"I get that people trust the media and think that everything they see is true," Cambage said.
"It seems like half of what is shown is made up to make others look better. That's what the media really are.
"I'm not a gamer. I never lie. I tell the truth all the time. I'm sitting here right now and thinking, "Leak the tapes, do whatever you want," because what they've shown you isn't true.
"Tell me what you want me to do. I told the media that I didn't say these things in a news statement. People only want to see what's bad in me."
Cambage said that she still loves basketball and that she thinks that playing for Nigeria and with "teammates who understand me" will help her move forward.
Cambage said, "I have had a lot of trouble with the Australian team."
"I've said it a million times. I've had to deal with players who wore blackface and managers who lied about me or pushed other athletes to say bad things about me in the media. A lot has happened.
"I really hope that Australia lets me play again and that FIBA lets it happen, because my fans miss seeing me play. I would love to go to the Olympics again. I'd love to go to Paris. The Olympic Village is one of the most inspiring places ever.
"The last Olympics I went to were awful. The Olympics in Rio were terrible. Rio Olympics was one of the worst times of my life, which says a lot about the coaches and team. I'd love to start over with new partners who know me, look like me, value me, and treat me with respect. I've talked to the Nigerian boss, and he's got my back."
Amukamara said that Cambage is talking about Otis Hughley, who was Nigeria's head coach until he quit in 2022. Nigeria's new head coach, Rena Wakama, took over the job in June of this year.
In an interview with Code Sports last week, Opals head coach Sandy Brondello said that "door has closed" on Cambage coming back to the team.
Brondello told Code Sports, "No, it's up to us."
"To be part of the Opals programme, you have to fit in with our culture. Liz did some great things for the Opals, but it was too much hard work at the end, and we don't need that. We only have a short time together, and one person can't make decisions for the whole group.
"It all comes down to culture. We spend a lot of time on culture, and I won't pick you if you can't buy into it. That's all there is to it."