WNBA star Liz Cambage denies recent allegations that she hurled racial slurs at members of the Nigerian basketball team ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.
“The incident that took place during the pre-Olympic scrimmage with the Nigerian team was handled privately, almost a year ago,” Cambage writes in a post shared to Instagram. “I am very disappointed and hurt by the events and accusations that have unfolded in the Australian media. The recount of what took place is inaccurate and misleading.
“I did not use the racial slur towards the Nigerian team that has been circulating.”
According to a report from The Daily Telegraph, Cambage threw an elbow into the head of a Nigerian player who was guarding her.
A video of the incident was published. However, during a timeout, Cambage got into another Nigerian player, slapping her in the face. As Cambage strolled over to the bench, the Nigerian player she allegedly assaulted ran behind Cambage and punched her with a closed fist. It was during this incident that Cambage allegedly called the players “monkeys.” Cambage also reportedly told them to “go back to their third world countries.”
In her statement, Cambage details her version of events:
“After I unintentionally fouled a Nigerian player on court I was then physically assaulted by this player on the sideline of my bench,” she explained. “I was hit in the face and pushed to the ground but I walked away. Prior to the game I asked to sit out because I was concerned about my mental and physical health, which I have addressed publicly. We did not have professional referees to manage and prioritise 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.”
Cambage then apologizes for her part in the altercation, adding that she takes full accountability for her actions.
Cambage joined WNBA as the No. 2 overall pick in 2011 after playing professionally in Australia and was named the All-WNBA first team after leading the league in scoring in 2018.