Australian basketball great Andrew Gaze has weighed into the latest Liz Cambage saga to hit back at ‘grossly unfair’ claims she ‘never’ felt supported by officials and believes there may be more to the alleged offensive slur that ended with her quitting the national team.
The former Australian Opals star is back in the headlines after a former teammate revealed the alleged comments Cambage made towards the Nigerian women’s basketball team at a warm up game leading up to the Beijing Olympics, sparking a brawl.
Former Opals captain Jenna O’Hea appeared on ABC’s Offsiders on Sunday to confirm claims Cambage had told her Nigerian rivals to ‘go back to your third world country’.
The bombshell allegations came after Los Angeles-based Cambage claimed she ‘never’ felt supported and protected while representing the Opals and that she was living her best life in the US.
Gaze, a five-time Olympian who was on the Basketball Australia board during much of Cambage’s time with the Opals unleashed an extraordinary attack on his SEN afternoon radio program he co-hosts with Andy Maher.
He slammed her claims as ‘grossly unfair’ and echoed reports Cambage’s alleged comments were ‘far more offensive’ than what’s been reported.
Liz Cambage (pictured) is back in the headlines after a former Opals teammate revealed the alleged comments she made towards the Nigerian women’s basketball team
‘There are other versions that were far more offensive…my understanding is that there’s even more to it that’s even more disgusting than what was actually said,’ a fired up Gaze told listeners on Monday.
When asked by his The Run Home co-host if he believed those claims Gaze replied: ‘There’s no reason why I shouldn’t because it’s been said by a number of people who I think would know.’
‘But above and beyond that and the thing that really, really grates at me is when she makes the comments to say she feels supported in Los Angeles at a level that wasn’t there with the Australian team; and the suggestion that she was never supported by Australia, the Opals or Basketball Australia, that is highly offensive.’
I have admitted to taking Cambage’s claims about her time with Opals quite personally.
Gaze recalled having long conversations with Cambage and her agent about ‘clear apparent issues’ of where her priorities needed to be but claimed she refused to see issues with her behaviour.
‘There was some behavior from Liz that under any reasonable judgment, there would have been some significant repercussions,’ Gaze said.
‘She was supported, not just by me, but many others along the way.
‘To say that she wasn’t supported is unfair; it is grossly unfair.’
He said he had sympathy and compassion for ‘where she was at that point in time’ but conceded that ‘she made some decisions that didn’t support her teammates’.
Basketball legend Andrew Gaze is the latest to unleash a scathing attack on Liz Cambage
Gaze continued: ‘There might be some times where she has certainly suffered some hardships … but the suggestion on this particular incident, and others, that her teammates, her coaches, Basketball Australia or anyone wasn’t supporting her, that is offensive. That is offensive to people who are going out of their way to try and put in place a system where she can actually perform to her best.
‘You don’t get paid to represent your country, you get very, very little. That’s not your sole source of income. It’s about honour. It’s about privilege. It’s about a sense of responsibility. It’s about looking at your life and seeing how other people have provided you a privileged opportunity to perform to the highest level.
‘And when you don’t respect that, and in fact you go the other way and say these people have actually harmed me, that is disgusting behavior by her. And it’s offensive to me, it’s offensive to anyone that’s represented our country.’
Gaze hopes Cambage will one day understand the mistakes she’s made and be able to play for the Opals again, despite her vows to never represent Australia again.
Gaze’s comments come after fellow Australian legend, former NBA star Andrew Bogut claimed O’Hea only revealed a very sanitized version Cambage’s alleged slur against the Nigerian team.
According to Bogut, O’Hea didn’t reveal the whole truth about the insult.
Cambage (pictured playing for the Opals in 2018) is claimed to have told Nigerian players ‘go back to your third world country’
But Aussie ex-NBA star Andrew Bogut says that’s just the PG-rated version of what Cambage allegedly said, and the uncensored slur is ‘beyond despicable’
‘You’ve just got the PG version. There was much more than,’ he radio station 2GB.
‘It’s beyond despicable what was said and I truly believe if that was anyone else, we’d hear much more about it.
‘There’s much more in there that you can’t say on radio… there were some other words used that I would never repeat, that I would never say, to be honest with you.’
On Monday Cambage broke her silence on the controversy by posting a cryptic tweet that read, ‘The truth will always come to light, and it ain’t even dawn yet.’
Cambage’s alleged slur was made even worse due to the fact one of her Opals teammates at the time, Ezi Magbegor, has Nigerian parents.
‘Is it correct you were playing Nigeria and Liz Cambage had her feathers ruffled and she turned to them and said: ‘Go back to your third world country’?’ Offsiders host Kelli Underwood asked O’Hea.
‘Ezi Magbegor is originally Nigerian, a Nigerian who’s now living in Australia and playing for your team, and as a result there was a brawl that erupted, and since then you haven’t spoken to her?’
O’Hea maintained eye contact as she gave her head to confirm the comment.
‘That is all 100 per cent correct,’ she said.
On Monday, Cambage broke her silence on the controversy by posting a cryptic tweet stating that the ‘truth will always come to light’
Cambage’s Opals teammate at the time she allegedly used the slur, Ezi Magbegor (pictured), has Nigerian parents
O’Hea was then asked if Cambage would ever play for Australia again and gave a blunt response.
‘No,’ she said.
Cambage defended abandoning the Australian national basketball team weeks before the Olympics, claiming she didn’t feel supported by teammates.
The basketball superstar said she is now ‘living her best life’ playing for the Los Angeles Sparks in the WNBA.
‘I’m supported, I’m protected on a level the Opals or the Australian team never gave to me,’ she said.
‘I’m protected on a level the Opals or the Australian team never gave to me,’ Cambage said of her switch to playing for the Los Angeles Sparks in the WNBA
‘My heart lies with those who want to protect me and those who want me to be the best I can be. I never felt that in the Opals at all.’
O’Hea dismissed the comment saying that Cambage was always looked after by her teammates.
‘I can hold my head up high and say that I always loved her, always cared for her, always supported her, always had her back,’ she said.
‘I think that is her reality. I think the listeners and watchers out there can believe who they want to believe.’