WNBA's Liz Cambage Denies Report She Used Racial Slur Against Nigerian Team

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVMay 30, 2022

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 17:  Liz Cambage #1 of the Los Angeles Sparks looks on during the game against the Minnesota Lynx on May 17, 2022 at Crypto.Com Arena in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)
Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

Los Angeles Sparks center Liz Cambage spoke out Monday to deny a report that she used a racial slur while representing Australia during a scrimmage against Nigeria ahead of the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo last summer.

Cambage responded to a report by the Daily Telegraph (h/t Matt Logue of news.com.au) which featured accounts from multiple players on the Nigerian national team.

The players said Cambage called them "monkeys" and told them to "go back to your third-world country" during an altercation in the scrimmage, which wasn't open to the public.

Cambage released a statement Monday on Instagram:

"The incident that took place in the pre-Olympic scrimmage with the Nigerian national team was handled privately almost a year ago. I am very disappointed and hurt by the events and accusations that have unfolded in the Australian media. The account of what took place is inaccurate and misleading. I did not use the racial slur toward the Nigerian team that has been circulating." 

The 30-year-old Cambage announced shortly before the 2021 Summer Olympics that she had withdrawn from the Australian national team to take care of her mental and physical health. She was later formally reprimanded by Basketball Australia after the scrimmage against Nigeria.

Regarding the incident during the scrimmage, Cambage wrote:

"After I unintentionally fouled a Nigerian player on court, I was then physically assaulted by this player on the sideline of my bench. I was hit in the face and pushed to the ground, but I walked away. ... We did not have professional referees to manage and prioritize both teams' safety during this highly physical scrimmage.

"This is not an excuse or justification to the events that unfolded or my actions, however, I feel that a full picture of the environment that led to this outcome must be shared."

The Daily Telegraph report noted Cambage apologized to the Nigerian team and her teammates for using a racial slur, but Cambage differed on that account.

While she acknowledged apologizing to the Nigerian players in her statement, she suggested it was because of her role in the scuffle.

The 6'9" Cambage, who is of Nigerian descent, was born in England and raised in Australia. She made her WNBA debut in 2011 after playing professionally in Australia.

After spending two seasons with the Tulsa Shock, Cambage went back overseas and played professionally in China and Australia, but she returned to the WNBA in 2018 to play for the Dallas Wings.

After one season in Dallas, Cambage spent two seasons with the Las Vegas Aces before signing with the Sparks this past offseason.

Cambage is a four-time All-Star and widely regarded as one of the WNBA's top players. She also won a bronze medal as part of the Australian national team at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Without Cambage at the 2021 Summer Games, Australia was knocked out by the United States in the quarterfinals and did not win a medal.