Man, if I could be granted one wish right now it would be a seat at the Jackson’s table when international star Lauren talks with her parents about her WNBA future. (OK, seriously, if granted a wish it would be that America was out of its trillion-dollar deficit, but I digress)
After the Storm won the 2004 championship, I had the luxury of talking to her and her parents at a lower Queen Anne Starbucks and the conversation was enlightening. Both Maree and Gary played for the Australian national teams and these people don’t pull punches when discussing the reality of the game. They were cluing Lauren (pictured right by ESPN) in to Russia’s high-paying game long before she signed to play with Spartak and they, predictably, griped about some of the disadvantages to the WNBA. But the Jacksons are loyal to the league because of what it has helped Lauren accomplish.
After listening to the full interview with their native Radio Sport 927 out of Melbourne, it really doesn’t seem like Lauren has made a decision. You can hear part one of the 18-minute chat from Russia below:
The juicier part where Jackson discusses her future in America is here:
Because of injuries, Jackson really does seem like she’s single-minded and focus on winning another title in Russia. Then she’ll move on to the next basketball port.
“[Injuries] makes you think about what’s going to happen in the future and retirement,” Jackson told the station in an interview recorded on Monday from Russia and aired Wednesday (PST). “You really have to start questioning where you go from here. For me, it’s more scary getting injured now more than anything because I’ve never done anything than play basketball.”
So, does Jackson go for one more challenge and trip to win a title in a different city with her other best friend? Or does she become one of those rare players who has the opportunity to end their career where they started?
Personally, I’m just happy Jackson is going to play in the WNBA this summer. She talked with local reporters and reiterated on the broadcast how tough it was to play with the right ankle injury in the Olympics and how tough it was to have the necessary surgery, missing the Storm’s final eight games and brief playoff run.
Although I fully understand her need to take care of her body for long-term goals, which include collecting as much money off her passion as possible, I think it would have been raw to ditch the WNBA now. But Jackson, a two-time MVP, may make her final decision on who’s gentler to her body.
And that may be Phoenix.
With vocal vets Sheryl Swoopes and Yolanda Griffith gone, is Swin Cash going to be the leader of this team? (A role Jackson and Sue Bird don’t like) Will everyone be cool with Jackson sitting out practices to preserve her body for games? In the past, there have been grumblings about this apparent protocol. And coach Brian Agler is strict in those sessions.
I don’t know how Phoenix coach Corey Gaines runs his practices outside of shoot-around, but it appears Jackson’s buddy Diana Taurasi is in control of her locker room and thrives on the leadership. Plus the Mercury has Cappie Pondexter and Nicole Ohlde with a healthier Tangela Smith inside. I’d take the Storm’s posts (Camille Little, Suzy Batkovic, Janell Burse, and Ashley Robinson) over the Mercury’s any day. But Pondexter was the 2007 Finals MVP, averaging 21.2 points last season. Think Betty Lennox redo.
Add Jackson, who’s better than Penny Taylor, and you’ve got another 2007 championship run that can contend with a healthy (read not pregnant) LA squad for the right to advance to the WNBA Finals.
Yet, in Russia, Jackson said she’s thankful to be surrounded by posts because it takes the pressure off of her. Does that push Seattle back in the running?
“[There’s] a lot of speculation going on from what my agent has told me,” Jackson told the station. “I’m really trying to focus on Russia. I’m thinking about something completely different [than the WNBA].”
It would be sad to lose Jackson, the Storm’s all-time leader in points (4,602), rebounds (1,887), blocks (485), games played (237), minutes (7,804), and personal fouls (741). One person who would especially feel the loss is Jimmy Quigg, a longtime Storm practice player who helped to make Jackson the player she is today.
“I feel that Lauren absolutely loves Seattle, the fans, the city, she’s made this place her home practically,” Quigg said. “At the same time, Lauren has a dear friend in Diana. She’s also the most competitive person I’ve ever met. It’s a tough call.
“She loves winning championships and her and Diana are like Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal. And, of course, Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson are like John Stockton and Karl Malone. I hope she stays, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she went, unfortunately.”
Quigg, like many WNBA fans, are thankful Jackson is at least playing one more year, however.
“Right now it’s kind of a sour taste with the whole surgery and all of that,” Quigg said. “One more year would really set things right. Also, hello, with Lauren Jackson, Sue Bird, Tanisha Wright [who was averaging 13.7 points and 5.7 in the postseason], Suzy — I would be looking forward to next season. One more year [in Seattle] would be really neat.”
One thing is certain from Jackson’s interview, she’s ready to go home. And I wish I were at that roundtable. I’d even stomach the vegemite.
“I’m so ready to come home,” Jackson said of returning to Albury, Australia. She’ll be there after the Russian season in April and should report to a WNBA camp on-time May 17. “I miss my home.”
Well, if you’re looking for a place to talk about this or other women’s sports, here you go: A new forum here on seattletimes.com.