WNBA, Women's Basketball

What Was The Reason Behind Liz Cambage Leaving the Los Angeles Sparks?

What’s with all the contract divorces this WNBA season? After Tina Charles parted ways with the Phoenix Mercury after 18 games comes the news of another WNBA all-star separating with their franchise. News reports have Liz Cambage opting for the still-weirdly worded contract divorce with the Los Angeles Sparks. The term basically stands for a buyout.

The Sparks put out a statement where the two parties have come to terms with a “contract divorce” after 25 games together.

“It is with support that we share Liz Cambage’s decision to terminate her contract with the organization,” Sparks managing partner Eric Holoman said in the 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.”

Cambage is a 30-year-old center was scoring just 13 points and pulling down 6.4 rebounds this season – which are her lowest averages since her rookie season. This is coming from a player who once scored 53 points in a game which is the league’s single game scoring record. The separation is five months after the Aussie pivot said  “it was L.A. or out for me.” according to Yahoo “There was nowhere else I wanted to be.” after she signed with Los Angeles. She averaged 13 points per game and 6.4 rebounds per game this season.

Why Did Liz Cambage Leave?

Unlike Charles’ situation, Cambage’s contract divorce isn’t her wanting to go to a winning team; the Sparks are in the midst of a run for the playoffs.

This report from Yahoo says that Cambage had multiple issues during her short tenure with the Sparks. She made requests to wear jersey numbers that weren’t available, came into the season out-of-shape, and her acquisition forced the team to waive or suspend certain players to make room for Cambage.

The biggest issue seems to be on-court. Cambage reportedly called out her teammates during film sessions on multiple occasions for looking her off and not giving her enough post touches. The complaining got to be so much that in their recent blowout loss to the league-leading Las Vegas Aces, there was a mix of not getting the ball when Cambage thought she would and not being able to do anything with the ball when she did get it. Here’s a video of Liz’s frustrations in her final game.

(Interbasket doesn’t endorse the commentary of the video, but providing it so you could see some of what happened against the Aces)

I watched a few Sparks games this season and anecdotally one could see that Cambage wasn’t comfortable, or pleased, with her role in the Sparks’ offense. “Chemistry issues” have been cited in the last couple months before Khristine Williams a reporter for @GrlsTlkSportsTV tweeted that Cambage had “quit” the team. That frustration and decision by Cambage ultimately led to buyout today.

Before that, she had “made verbal comments about her intentions to leave the Sparks to multiple people within the organization.”

We’ll likely never know what exactly what happened. However there are clues. Such as this presser where you can decipher a lot from the body language and facial expressions of Liz’s teammate. Watch this postgame presser with Liz, Brittney Sykes, and Chiney Ogwumike. They say a picture is worth a thousand words so you can imagine what a video is worth as you wtiness Sykes’ and Chiney’s unspoken vibe as Cambage fakes the “I’m just happy to be here at the moment.”

Oof. I say “fake” as this interview was from just five days ago. Whatever happened in these last 4-5 days, those frustrations clearly boiled over leading up to the news today.

If you’re familiar with Cambage, she isn’t one to hold her tongue, isn’t a stranger to controversy and is outspoken. She’s made waves over an Olympic photoshoot being whitewashed. She’s been accused of using a racial slur against the Nigerian National Team – an allegation she’s denied. It certainly doesn’t help that the Sparks has two players from Nigeria — Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike. When she was first drafted by the Tulsa Shock, she refused to play for the team.

Cambage has rightfully complaining about being underpaid and pulled out of the Tokyo Olympics due to mental health reasons.

We support athletes speaking out on issues they believe in, but we’re apprehensive when it comes to players quitting on their teams mid-season. There may be other more-serious reasons that Cambage left the team, so we’ll monitor any new information that comes out.

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