Liz Cambage has decided to “step away” from the WNBA after her rocky contract divorce from the Los Angeles Sparks, she announced Monday via Instagram.
The 30-year-old center and the Sparks agreed to a contract divorce in late July, less than six months after she signed with the team as a free agent in the offseason.
“I’m sorry to have left abruptly and I wish it would have ended on a different note,” Cambage wrote in an Instagram caption. “I’ve decided to step away from the league for the time being and I’m hopeful that the WNBA will do their part in creating safer environments and a stronger support system for their players.”
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Conflict on and off the court marred Cambage’s time with the Sparks. She criticized teammates during film sessions, expressed discontent with her role on the team and took a jersey number from a teammate, Yahoo Sports reported following the contract divorce.
In Monday’s post, though, the four-time WNBA All-Star extended an olive branch to the team, which ended the regular season just outside the playoff picture.
“Playing for the Sparks was a dream come true and I’m honored to have shared the court with such amazing ladies for as long as we did,” Cambage wrote.
Cambage previously has discussed her mental health struggles, which the Australian cited in her decision to withdraw from the Tokyo Olympics last summer.
“I’m halfway through a WNBA season, I’ve been dealing with health issues, I’ve been having panic attacks and vomiting during WNBA games,” she said last August on an episode of HBO’s “The Shop: Uninterrupted.”
Her withdrawal from the Australian national team, though, created waves into this season. Reports emerged in May that Cambage had gotten into a physical altercation with the Nigerian national team during a scrimmage ahead of the Games and had directed a racial slur at Nigerian players. Cambage denied that she used a slur.
An Australian teammate told the Daily Telegraph that the scrimmage was a breaking point for the Opals.
“There had been so many behavioral issues that had gone on previously that we could write a book, but that incident happened to be the final straw which happened to be the worst one,” the teammate said.
In her post Monday, Cambage said she would take some time to focus on healing and personal growth before “providing clarification on past rumors.”
Sparks interim coach Fred Williams – who has known Cambage since their time together with the Dallas Wings – spoke about Cambage’s exit soon after it happened.
“It was a surprise,” Williams said. “But I have to respect what she wants. Once a person gives you that verbally what she wants, you have to listen because it could be something else, could be something that’s not related to basketball.”