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Opals legend Michele Timms believes Elizabeth Cambage’s exit from the Tokyo Olympics may be for the best, claiming the WNBA All-Star has “tarnished” the reputation of the Australian women’s national basketball team.
Cambage withdrew from the team for the Tokyo Olympics last week on health grounds, but Basketball Australia has since officially opened an investigation into what is believed to be a “violation of the integrity framework and code of conduct”.
Cambage confirmed she was involved in a physical altercation during the pre-Olympic scrimmage against Nigeria, but suggested that rumors of the incident have spiraled out of control.
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Timms, who coached Cambage at Bulleen, didn’t comment on the Las Vegas Aces star’s heartbreaking admission on mental health, but was critical of her behavior in general.
“Obviously it’s a huge disappointment,” said Timms, who is in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame TO BE.
“But it’s getting to a point where I’ve definitely said enough is enough.
“Before this, Liz has affected something that we have worked so hard for. The players who have come before wearing green and gold have worked so hard on the culture and the way we want to be remembered in the community and the legacy players have left for left us.
“It was very disappointing to see Liz’s behavior and what apparently happened.
“Again, she’s been spotlighting the green and gold and the Opals for all the wrong reasons.”
Timms said extraordinarily that she would rather see the Opals miss out on an Olympic medal than have their reputation jeopardized.
“For me personally, I can’t speak for anyone else, but enough is enough — we can’t accept this anymore,” Timms said.
“Honestly, I’d rather not win a medal than win this way with someone who unfortunately is constantly in the news for all the wrong reasons.
“When your teammates get together and say, ‘Enough is enough’, that’s the biggest indicator that you’re not acting as expected in a team situation.”
In a statement confirming her departure from the Opals Olympic squad, Cambage said she “wishes the team the best” while focusing on her health.
“Anyone who knows me knows that one of my biggest dreams is to win an Olympic gold medal with the Opals. Any athlete competing in the Olympics should be at their mental and physical peak, and right now,” she said.
“I’m still far from where I want to be and need to be.
“It’s no secret that I’ve struggled with my mental health in the past and lately I’ve been really worried about going into a ‘bubble’ Olympics. No family. No friends. No fans. No support system outside of my team It’s really terrifying for me. For the past month I’ve been having panic attacks, not sleeping and not eating.
“Relying on daily medication to control my anxiety is not where I want to be right now. Especially getting into the competition on the world’s biggest sports venue.
“I know myself and I know I can’t be the Liz everyone deserves to see competing for the Opals. At least not now. I have to take care of myself mentally and physically.
“It breaks my heart to announce that I am withdrawing from the Olympics but I think it is best for the Opals and myself. I wish them nothing but good luck in Tokyo and I hope they continue and a golden medal. Love and light,” she concluded.
Timms played in the WNBA from 1997-2001 and made the All-Star team in 1999. She also represented Australia at the 1996 Atlanta and 2000 Sydney Olympics, winning bronze and silver medals.
Despite Cambage expressing her support for the team, Timms said she would not select the center for the Opals in the future.
“I would say no, a lot would have to change for her,” Timms said.
“If it was me, and if I had anything to do with it, I’m not sure I’d want her back in the green and gold until she can change her ways a bit.”
The Opals begin their Olympic campaign in Tokyo against Belgium next Tuesday at 6:20 p.m. (AEST).
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