Opals great Lauren Jackson has announced that she is coming out of retirement.
Basketball Hall of Fame member, three-time WNBA Most Valuable Player and four-time Olympian Lauren Jackson will be making a return to basketball, coming out of retirement after over 6 years away from the game.
Lauren Jackson Return to Play
- Opals legend Lauren Jackson went into retirement in 2016 due to a chronic injury.
- Jackson will return to play for her hometown side Albury Wodonga in the NBL1.
- The Opals are hosting a home World Cup later this year in Sydney, NSW.
More Australian women's basketball news can be found on The Women's Game.
Jackson originally retired from the sport in 2016 because of a chronic knee injury. She has credited a medical cannabis trial and weight loss as her road back to basketball. At the time of her retirement Jackson was considered one of the finest female players in the history of the sport.
When interviewed by The Australian, Jackson spoke of returning to the sport and her decision to leave all doors open, including a possible Opals return:
“When I played in America and Europe, overseas living the dream, there were times when I just wished I played for Albury at home so it’s a bit of a dream come true,” she told The Australian.
“I haven’t really played for eight years and I haven’t played a game yet so I’ve got no idea what to expect.
"After a couple of months of playing NBL1, who knows how I’m going to feel, what I’m going to be doing or how I’ll be playing, it’s a complete unknown.
“I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing at the moment because it seems to be working and we’ll see wherever it takes me, who knows? I’m not closing the door on anything.
“My kids are my life and a huge motivation for me. As much as I’m doing it for them, I’m doing it for myself, I’d love to get back on the court and shoot some hoops.”
According to the AAP, Jackson has "the backing of Opals coach Sandy Brondello." Australia's women's basketball team are set to play a home World Cup in Sydney, taking place in September-October of this year.
As part of her return to play, 40-year old Jackson has signed with her hometown side, the Coles Express NBL1 East side Albury Wodonga Bandits and will play in her own stadium, the Lauren Jackson Sports Centre. It is the club's first season in the inaugural NBL1 East competition.
Speaking at the announcement, Albury Wodonga Bandits president Luke Smith stated:
"We’re just over the moon that Lauren’s playing for her hometown and her home club.
"It’s huge for the Albury Wodonga Bandits and for the Albury Wodonga community.
"I think it’s going to be a really big year and we’re really looking forward to her playing in a stadium named after herself and in front of her friends, family and her two boys.
"They’re at the age where they’ll be able to remember seeing their Mum play, not only basketball, but basketball at home too."
𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐆𝐎𝐀𝐓 𝐈𝐒 𝐁𝐀𝐂𝐊 🐐😍— NBL1 (@NBL1) February 1, 2022
Australia's greatest ever basketballer Lauren Jackson (@laurenej15) is coming home to play for the @BorderBandits in the inaugural @NBL1East season! 🤩
Full details here: https://t.co/RAza8XY5Xt 🗞ï¸ pic.twitter.com/vcnMUnn8kq
Fans of Jackson could see the Opals legend play as early as in April, with the Bandits playing their game Saturday, April 2, 2022 and their first home match at the Lauren Jackson Sports Centre on Saturday, April 9, 2022.
More Opals and WNBL news can be found on Basketball Australia's website.