In a world where people are constantly searching for the negatives in life and others, it’s time to sit back and appreciate the greatness of Australian superstar centre Liz Cambage.
Sure, she’s made mistakes and to some she comes across as arrogant and selfish. But with all of the online hatred and condemnation of her basketball career so far, you (or Andrew Bogut) can’t question her honesty and desire to just be herself.
She’s copped it online for spitting the dummy, saying too much, taking time away from the game and for not being able to lead her team – the Melbourne Boomers – to the 2018 WNBL Championship, despite it being just her first season back in Australia since 2012.
After cementing a playoffs berth, Cambage displayed the unbridled honesty that she has – for better or worse – become known for.
I asked @DallasWings @ecambage Liz Cambage if tonight’s win and making the playoffs made any difference in her @WNBA future or made her rethink her recent comments… Spoiler alert: No. #RiseTogether #watchuswork #WNBA @WNBAinsidr pic.twitter.com/C6xBUzosb7
— Dorothy J. Gentry (@DorothyJGentry) August 18, 2018
The 27-year-old has had her ups and downs, which she revealed included depression not too long ago and people often seem to forget the major injury she sustained – and fought back from – in 2014. Rupturing an achilles is widely regarded as one of the worst and toughest injuries to come back from for sportspeople.
Almost four years on, she hasn’t just returned from that brutal injury, she has taken her game to a new level – one that we haven’t seen from any player in the history of the game.
She is currently in the midst of one of the most brutally impressive WNBA seasons in history.
Having led her Dallas Wings squad to the playoffs with an inspired 43 point and 13 rebound effort in a do-or-die clash against the Las Vegas Aces over the weekend, you can’t help but feel like we are watching one of the most dominant players ever.
As the below tweet suggests, her season is right up there with our GOAT; Lauren Jackson.
Liz Cambage celebrates her 27th birthday today.
She also has the only 2 40-point games in the league this season. pic.twitter.com/QdQfjRQE47
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 19, 2018
Her season averages and rankings are simply insane and underline her domination of the league.
23 points (#1 in the league), 9.6 rebounds (#2 in the league), 1.8 blocks (#4 in the league) per game and a field goal percentage of 58.8 (#4 in the league).
Cambage has scored in double-figures in all of her 32 outings – 15 of those games include double-doubles. Some of her stat lines are otherworldly.
53 points (WNBA single-game record), 10 rebounds, 5 blocks, 2 assists, W.
43 points, 13 rebounds, 3 assists, W.
37 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks, 2 steals, W.
35 points, 17 rebounds, 4 assists, W.
28 points, 18 rebounds, 3 blocks, W.
She also owns the WNBA record for most points scored in a 10-game span with an incredible 309 points.
People have questioned her want and drive. At times, that criticism has been warranted; aka missing an Opals training camp due a music festival, but tell me if you think the player in the video below looks like she doesn’t care or doesn’t want it all?
“We just left everything out there tonight and we got it done.”@ecambage and @SkyDigg4 clinch a playoff spot for the @DallasWings in the last home game of the season.#RiseTogether pic.twitter.com/qetDdm3h8k
— FOX Sports Southwest (@FOXSportsSW) August 18, 2018
And please, don’t hate on her for having fun. Just because she sings, dances and shares plenty of laughs, doesn’t mean she isn’t a fierce competitor. For what it’s worth, her Instagram stories are incredibly entertaining and she’s certainly worth a follow.
She doesn’t hide her emotions – on and off the court – and whilst this can get her in trouble with the referees, it’s refreshing to see a player showcase her personality and passion so openly.
the called a travel on liz and look at liz staring at the ref like a parent disappointed with a child 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/3xQbrZFRVP
— Shea Serrano (@SheaSerrano) August 18, 2018
She has opinions and isn’t afraid to let them be heard – this has caused much of the disdain towards her, but it seems like now, after taking over the WNBA, people are starting to listen to her words and point of view.
Her recent comments about pay and conditions in the WNBA – which included thoughts about not returning to the league in 2019 – sparked a discussion and that’s certainly a starting point for improvements in those areas.
If she doesn’t return, the WNBA will be losing arguably the best player in the league. It might just be time to pay up.
Cambage’s game is built on overpowering and completely overwhelming her opponents. With her back to the basket, Cambage is like nothing we’ve seen before.
She knows exactly what works for her in the paint and even if an opponent thinks they’ve got her right where they want her, she more often than not finds a way to get back in control.
Her record-breaking 53-point outing against New York wasn’t just about the outrageous amount of bucket-getting, it was her sheer efficiency that was just as eye-catching. When the ball was in her hands, the Wings were in control as she completely took over, shooting 77% (17/22) from the field and 94% (15/16) from the line.
In her second stint in the WNBA – she played two seasons for the Tulsa Shock in 2011 and 2013 – Cambage is proving a lot of people wrong. Her two seasons with Tulsa were labelled a disappointment, but her stats were still impressive nonetheless; in 20 outings she averaged 16.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game in 2013.
In her on-court interview after that historic 53-point outing, she said; “I’ve had big numbers in China, I’ve had big numbers in Australia – I’ve heard a lot of people say I could never have big numbers here in the WNBA, so I guess this game was for y’all.”
Cambage is ticking off major accomplishments left, right and centre in season 2018, but there is still one piece of history she is chasing.
WNBA Championship glory.
After just scraping into the playoffs, the Wings present a scary post-season prospect for the rest of the league. They possess one of the best one-two punches in the league; Cambage and Skylar Diggins-Smith, and their chemistry continues to develop with every game.
Cambage and Diggins-Smith are MVP-calibre players in their own right. As a duo, they are capable of anything on any given night.
In a mouth-watering first round match-up, the Wings will face the Phoenix Mercury on Wednesday at 10:30am (AEST). It is a single-game elimination round that will see two of the best centres in the league go head-to-head.
Liz Cambage v Britney Griner.
In their three meetings during the regular season, Griner took the chocolates in the head-to-head match-ups by holding Cambage to well below her season averages.
In those three games, Cambage averaged 13.7 points, 5 rebounds and 2.7 assists. Griner averaged 17.3 points, 5 rebounds and 1 assist.
Having said that, since their last match-up on July 10, Camabge has averaged 27.3 points and 9.8 rebounds, while Griner has produced 21.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.
It’s the match-up that will decide the outcome of the do-or-die clash and if Cambage’s stunning season is anything to go by, you’d be well-placed to side with her.