Storm All-Star Lauren Jackson went immediately to the training table after her team’s 73-72 Game 3 Western Conference semi-final loss at Target Center on Tuesday. She received a cortisone injection to relieve a hamstring injury during the WNBA season. But after the game against Minnesota, a distraught Jackson said she may need to undergo surgery for other ailments.
“I’ve got to go home and get checked out,” said Jackson of returning to her native Australia. She’s expected to play for the Canberra Capitals this offseason. “I’ve got my hamstring and my back and stuff and Achilles. So I’ve got to go get some stuff figured out.
“The thing is, in Australia, I’ve got the best people around me to really help me get back to where I was in 2010. That’s a bonus for me. It’s just one of those things where I’ve got to make sure everything is right before I keep going.”
In 2010, Jackson won the regular-season and postseason WNBA MVP awards. She averaged 20.5 points and 8.3 rebounds in 32 games. Jackson has only played one full WNBA season (2005) in her 12-year career.
The 6 feet 6 center needed left hip flexor surgery in 2011, missing 20 games as she rehabilitated the injury. She finished rehabilitation in Spain, helping her team win a EuroLeague title. Jackson went on to train and play in the London Olympic games for the Opals, winning a bronze medal. But she suffered an ankle injury before the Games.
The Storm was Jackson’s last stop this calendar year. Her hamstring flared, again, but like others on the team, the 31-year-old fought through the pain. Yet it may explain her 6 of 19 shooting in the best-of-three series against Minnesota. Some shots were air balls, others under the hoop whiffed, Jackson appearing to not have the strength to get the ball in the basket.
Storm coach Brian Agler said he was aware of Jackson’s situation along with other players. Storm point guard Sue Bird had left hip flexor surgery during the offseason last year, but had problems with her right as the 2012 schedule progressed. She could even be seen working it out on the court during the playoffs, but scored 12 of her team-high 19 points in the second half. Bird also finished with 11 assists.
Turning 32 later this month, Bird didn’t want to discuss postseason surgery when the issue rose after the Olympic break. She won a third consecutive gold medal with Team USA. Bird will be evaluated, however, planning to join her Russian team in December.
Veteran Tina Thompson sprained her knee in July while C Ann Wauters had a small tear in her Achilles. Wauters had her Belgium doctors examine the injury during the league-wide Olympic break, however, and surgery was not supposed to be needed.
Only F Camille Little started all 34 games. She had one of her better games of the season in Game 3 against the Lynx. She finished with 17 points on 7 of 10 shooting from the field.
“We’ll just see what the evaluation is,” Agler said of Jackson. “We’ve got a couple of people that might be in that situation, not just Lauren. We’re quite aware of what’s going on with all of our players. I’ll let that play out.”
Injuries were a major part of the season. The players missed a collective 30 games due to some ailment. Seattle began the year 1-7 and clawed its way to a 16-18 finish, ending a four-year streak of 20-win seasons.
“For us to get through all of that and you see the product out there (Tuesday), it says a lot about the people in this room,” Bird said of making the defending champion Lynx play their game. “This (first-round exit is) tough because I think we did have a championship-caliber team. If I would have said that two months ago people might have laughed at me, which is fine. But we knew. We knew it was just about getting people here. Getting healthy. Getting a chemistry going. We knew what we had. The thing that’s tough…I don’t know. It really sucks. I really have no other way to explain it.”
Agler was upbeat with the team in a post-game talk before media was allowed into the locker room.
“For everything that we’ve gone through this year, where we started and where we ended up, I don’t know if I could be prouder of the team,” he told reporters.