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Liz Cambage Addresses Controversial Incident with Nigerian Basketball Team
Former WNBA star's statement speaks about allegations and offers insights into 2021 scrimmage controversy.
Former WNBA star Liz Cambage, who was accused of using racial slurs and engaging in contentious behavior during a 2021 scrimmage involving the Australian Opals and the Nigerian D'Tigress, has released a new statement via social media to provide clarity on her perspective. This development follows a recent interview with Taylor Rooks of Bleacher Report.
Nigerian women's basketball players Promise Amukamara and Sarah Ogoke have contested Liz Cambage's assertions regarding the alleged use of a racial slur directed towards the Nigerian national team.
In the incident from 2021, Cambage reportedly employed racial slurs targeting the Nigerian team during a scrimmage held in Las Vegas as a prelude to the Olympics. She is said to have referred to them as "monkeys" and instructed them to "go back to your third-world country."
Following the accusations, Cambage initially denied making such comments and subsequently withdrew from participation in the Tokyo Olympics later that year.
In her recent conversation with Taylor Rooks, Cambage once again refuted the allegations. She stated, "I don't really lean towards racially backed insults. That's not how I go. I'm very pro-Black. I did not say these [things] to these girls. The truth looks a lot worse for other organizations involved, than using me as a scapegoat."
Promise Amukamara, representing Nigeria, took to Twitter to counter Cambage's remarks, asserting that Cambage's statements were inaccurate. Amukamara's tweets included, "I'm sorry but this is false, Lol. She called us Monkeys & told us to go back to our country. Yes she said that! Literally everyone from both teams have the same story BUT her, so y'all do the math! The only person she has been in 'cahoots' w/ was the former coach of our National team & he's no longer the coach, so there's that!"
In her statement, Cambage addresses the circulating video footage from the 2021 scrimmage and underscores her concerns about the playing conditions within the COVID "Bubble." She emphasizes that she communicated these concerns to Opals staff before the scrimmage took place. The video reveals an intense match lacking proper officiating, culminating in a confrontation that led to Cambage suffering a concussion. Cambage vehemently denies using racial slurs or derogatory language, as alleged by certain reports, and she points to the video evidence to support her position.
Cambage clarifies that she did not officially join the Nigerian national team, but expressed her interest in representing Nigeria. She recounts discussions with team personnel about the necessary steps for eligibility. She conveys her best wishes to all players on the D'Tigress team.
Colin Udoh, a Nigerian journalist, consulted with the Nigeria Basketball Federation, which affirmed that there was never any intent to include Cambage on the team's roster. The idea of Cambage joining the Nigerian team reportedly originated solely from her side in the aftermath of the 2021 incident. An official from the federation humorously remarked that the chances of Cambage playing for Nigeria were akin to "an elephant passing through the eye of a needle."
Cambage's recent career trajectory includes her final appearance in the WNBA in 2022 with the Los Angeles Sparks. She left the team mid-season to focus on personal healing and growth. Subsequently, she participated in Israeli basketball with Maccabi Bnot Ashdod.
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