Four-time All-Star Liz Cambage announced on Instagram on Monday that she is stepping away from the WNBA for the foreseeable future in order to focus on her personal health and well-being. Cambage's post was not a retirement announcement, but it's unclear when or if she'll ever play in the league again.
"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. I'm sorry to have left abruptly and I wish it would have ended on a different note. 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. While I'll miss rocking the purple and gold, I'll be taking this time to focus on my healing and personal growth before providing clarification on past rumors. Thank you to all my supporters, family and friends for all the love and light you continue to surround me with."
In one of the biggest free agency moves last winter, Cambage left the Las Vegas Aces after three years (two seasons) to sign with the Los Angeles Sparks. Though she had been eager to play in Los Angeles for some time, her stint with the Sparks did not go as planned. The team got off to a rough start, and head coach and GM Derek Fisher was fired less than a month into the season.
Cambage wasn't doing well on a personal level, either. She averaged 13 points and 6.4 rebounds on 50.9 percent from the field, but was not her usual dominant self and missed the All-Star Game for the first time as a participating player since returning to the league in 2018. (She sat out the 2020 season.) In addition, she had a third bout with COVID-19 and missed multiple games in the middle of July. Finally, on July 26, the team announced it had.
"It was a surprise — I didn't know what really escalated it," Fred Williams, the team's interim head coach, said. "A lot of it could have been things off the court, off floor, who knows. Having conversations with her afterward, it just felt it was good for her personally to make that move. All we can do as an organization is support that and her decisions and just move on."
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This is the third time in Cambage's career that she has forced her way out of a team. After expressing initial disinterest in playing for the Tulsa Shock, who drafted her with the No. 2 pick in the 2011 WNBA Draft, Cambage skipped the 2012 season and ultimately left the league for five years following the 2013 campaign. When she returned in 2018, the Shock had moved to Dallas to become the Wings, and she played just one season there before forcing a trade to the Las Vegas Aces.
In addition to her issues with the WNBA, Cambage is in hot water in her native Australia after an incident during the lead-up to the Olympics last year. Cambage did not go to Tokyo due to what she said were mental health concerns, but in May it was revealed that her dismissal from the Australian national team came after an incident in a pre-Olympics exhibition game against Nigeria. Video shows Cambage elbowing and later slapping a Nigerian player, and she was also alleged to have directed racial slurs toward the Nigerians., but her days with the national team appear to be over.