Topic: Lauren Jackson
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November 21, 2013 at 7:02 AM
Lauren Jackson should be dizzy by now. I just spent 30 minutes shaking the global hoops star, cracking up with every “Oh my God” she deadpanned.
What the? Exactly. There’s this new wave of virtual branding for celebrities and marketers called “HeadCasts.” As if Twitter, Instagram, Podcats, personal websites and Facebook weren’t enough, now in an animated app you can sort of interact with stars — if you have a smart phone, of course.
And you thought video games were the only way to toy with athletes.
To quote the company, HeadcastLab, “We’re a team of media professionals and animation obsessives with years of experience stretching from Spitting Image to Lara Croft. We develop characters and environments that beguile audiences, whoever or wherever they may be.”
Jackson, a three-time WNBA MVP, recently played her first game in China. Through this crazy technology, she chats with you about her experience so far (like watching a friend eat duck beak) while making face gestures. Tap her, poke her or shake her — while creepy — makes her bounce a basketball or spout “Oh my God” like she knows it’s completely insane to shake your phone to get a reaction from a virtual her. Jackson is an advocate against domestic violence, making the whole taping her face thing weird, but you gotta love the “realness” of the image down to her bad hair dye. And it’s cool to actually hear from her.
Yeah, I could call, but you probably can’t. And she’s in China!
September 19, 2013 at 12:21 PM
Rookies Brittney Griner, the 6-foot-8 Phoenix center, and Elena Delle Donne, the 6-5 Chicago forward, did their job in drawing more fans to WNBA seats and telecasts for the 2013 season. Delle Donne’s Sky saw a 17 percent increase in attendance from the averaged 5,573 fans Chicago drew in 2012.
Phoenix saw a 9 percent bump from its 7,815 in 2012 while the Indiana Fever was third in increased attendance, up 8 percent from its 7,582 average in 2012. The WNBA conveniently stopped providing the hardcore averages for its attendance this season — percentages without reference to actual numbers does look better in print, you know — so it surmised its total attendance saw a 1 percent increase overall. The league averaged 7,457 fans in 2012, an all-time low.
Because I have a calculator and time, the Storm, sans All-Stars Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson, averaged 6,980 fans in 2013. In Seattle, where KeyArena’s environment and fans are the envy of the WNBA, the figure is a dramatic dip from the 7,489 fans in 2012 – which ranked seventh in the WNBA. The Storm’s best season remains its inaugural one in 2000 when it averaged 8,912. But since Force 10 Hoops purchased the team in 2008, the Storm has averaged more than 8,000 fans in three seasons (2008, 2010, 2011).
I blame this season’s dip more on a failure to market more than Bird and Jackson in the past, fans not knowing players like G Tanisha Wright, F Camille Little and the addition of F Tina Thompson are worth seeing, too, hence the 10th consecutive playoff berth. But I digress.
September 17, 2013 at 12:17 PM
Might as well start with Storm G Tanisha Wright, seeing how my mentioning of Wright as a first-team WNBA pick irked some on my Twitter timeline. It’s an opinion vote, so fans can have theirs and it can not count all the same. But mine isn’t a homer pick.
My ballot rules remain the same. A team has to reach the postseason to be considered. Only one pick broke that personal criteria this season, Tulsa’s Gary Kloppenburg as Coach of the Year. The Shock improved its win total, won the regular-season series against the Storm 3-2 to nearly clinch a playoff berth for the first time since relocating from Detroit in 2010 and Tulsa lost five games in overtime, which again, could have helped them get to postseason play. Considering this was done with a young squad that required tough decisions — benching a touted draft pick being one — Klop gets my nod despite not reaching the only goal in pro sports — postseason play to win a championship.
So, back to Wright and the team everyone said would be booty due to offseason surgeries in All-Star mainstays Sue Bird (knee) and Lauren Jackson (hamstring). The Storm finished 17-17, one better than last season with the hobbled stars. The Storm finished at .500, which either matched or is better than three of the Eastern Conference playoff teams. (FYI, there are only four playoff teams) Seattle swept No. 3 seed Phoenix and was 2-2 against No. 2 seed Los Angeles this season. What I’m saying is you can’t tell me Wright shouldn’t be considered a top player in the league because the Storm lost 17 games.
I vote by position — the old-school small forward, power forward, center, point guard, shooting guard lineup. The WNBA also requires voters to vote players by the position they start, so Candace Parker can play all over the court if coach Carol Ross would like, Parker is still a center on my ballot and not better than Sylvia Fowles (Chicago), so Parker is all-WNBA second-team.
September 9, 2013 at 8:21 AM
Storm All-Star Lauren Jackson is nearing the end of her rehabilitation from January hamstring surgery, signing to play in China this winter. The Australian native will join the Heilongjiang Shenda Basketball Club based in Heilongjiang University Gym in Harbin City, which is the capital of Heilongjiang Province.
“I’m looking forward to my arrival in China and Harbin City,” Jackson said in a released statement on Monday. “I have been very privileged to play basketball all over the world and this is a new, exciting challenge for me, playing for this club in the WCBA league.”
With Jackson signing, WCBA arguably passed Russia and aligned itself with Turkey as the second-best women’s basketball league in the world, trailing only the WNBA.
WNBA stars Maya Moore (Minnesota), Brittney Griner (Phoenix), and Nneka Ogwumike (Los Angeles) have already signed to play in the league this offseason. Aussie C Liz Cambage (Tulsa) played in the league last season and could return after rehabilitating from an ankle injury suffered in August.
Storm F Camille Little played in China last offseason but her agent said she’s close to signing a contract to play in Turkey this winter. Storm All-Star Sue Bird is nearing the end of her rehab from May knee surgery and plans to return to Russia this winter before playing the 2014 WNBA season. Bird, 32, was medically cleared last week for all non-contact, on-court drills. She began participating in shooting drills with the team Tuesday.
August 18, 2013 at 7:30 AM
Can you be the WNBA’s Most Improved if you’ve really just returned to actually honor your contract? Tulsa All-Star Liz Cambage, a 6-foot-8 center, is making a case for what to do with her improved play as the WNBA’s final stretch begins.
The Australian scored 27 points on 8-for-12 shooting from the field as the last-placed Tulsa defeated the WNBA-leading Minnesota 83-77 on Friday. It’s the relocated-Shock’s first win against the 2011 WNBA champion Lynx in 15 games.
Remember when Cambage in 2012 flip-flopped on playing in Tulsa, ultimately missing the season after averaging 11.5 points and 4.7 rebounds in 33 games as a WNBA rookie? Well, as Storm C Lauren Jackson said in terms of her game, Cambage is finding the competitive benefits of playing in the toughest league in the world. She’s averaging 16.7 points and 7.7 rebounds for Tulsa (8-17), which sits 3.5 games back of Seattle (11-13) for the fourth and final spot in the Western Conference playoff race. It would be the Shock’s first postseason appearance since relocating from Detroit in 2009.
The No. 1 overall draft pick in 2011, Cambage’s game arrives at the right time. Down under on Sunday, her Opals national team co-captain, Jackson, scored the first seven points of an eventual 84-66 win against New Zealand in the FIBA Oceania Championship. Jackson, who underwent hamstring surgery in January, finished with a team-high 21 points to seal a 2-0 series win.
Former Storm G Belinda Snell finished with 17 points and four assists for the Opals.
August 14, 2013 at 8:27 AM
Storm All-Star Lauren Jackson returned to the court on Wednesday after a 10-month layoff due to hamstring surgery in January. A three-time WNBA MVP, Jackson joined her native Australian national team to defeat New Zealand 66-50 on Wednesday in the opening round of the Oceania championship.
Jackson, a 6-foot-6 center, scored 22 points and had nine rebounds in her first organized game since Seattle lost 73-72 to Minnesota in the decisive Game 3 of the WNBA playoffs opening-round in October 2012. Jackson finished that road game with nine points on 1-for-7 shooting with six rebounds, missing a possible game-winner with 1.2 seconds left. Immediately following the loss Jackson, 32, wondered if she’d play, again.
“I’m just happy I got that game out of the way. It feels so good to be out there pain free,” Jackson told Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) News after Wednesday’s game. “I couldn’t walk before I had the surgery. I’m feeling pretty good about things, now. There was a period where I thought I’d never play, again, but to come out here tonight…New Zealand is our neighbor, so it feels like home a bit and it feels good.”
The Opals face the Tall Ferns on Sunday in Canberra. The teams are vying for slots at the FIBA World Championship in Turkey from September 27 to October 5, 2014.
June 20, 2013 at 12:19 PM
Storm coach Brian Agler has had a successful career in Seattle since being hired in 2008, winning a WNBA championship in 2010 and collecting a solid run when the team won a franchise-record 18 straight home games from 2010-11. In 2011, Agler past former Houston Comets coach Van Chancellor to became the coaches’ all-time leader in wins in American women’s professional basketball with 229 through Sunday’s overtime victory at KeyArena against Washington. Agler had 72 wins in the defunct ABL and has 157 in the WNBA.
For that, and many more achievements, he’ll be inducted into his native Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame on May 17, 2014.
“I would have loved to (play for Brian here),” three-time WNBA MVP Lauren Jackson said recently of Agler being considered to coach her Australian national team through the 2016 Olympic Games. “He’s probably the best coach I’ve played under.”
Here’s the official release:
Brian Agler to be Inducted to Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame
2010 WNBA Coach of the Year Will Be Honored in 2014 Ceremony
SEATTLE – Brian Agler, the all-time winningest coach in women’s professional basketball, will be inducted to the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame on May 17, 2014.
“I feel very honored to be nominated for induction into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame, which already includes many great individuals and teams from my home state,” Agler said. “I have had great fortune to have played for, played with and coached great basketball people that have impacted this recognition and because of that, I am very appreciative.”
May 21, 2013 at 1:02 PM
Caught up with Storm All-Star C Lauren Jackson (way) early Tuesday morning to get her thoughts about the WNBA season without her and Sue Bird due to injuries. More from the interview (and a chat with Bird) later, but Jackson did give some insights to what would be a successful season for the Storm considering all of the changes. None of ESPN’s prognosticators have Seattle advancing for a WNBA-record 10th playoff appearance and league general managers pretty much feel the same, only giving Seattle a nod for its staple fan support and coach Brian Agler’s strategies the final two minutes of a tight game.
“Obviously a successful season is dictated by wins and losses,” Jackson said. “But when teams are rebuilding or dealing with injuries, you’ve just got to get your players better and stronger and ready. You never know what can happen. Stranger things have happened. The girls could come out and win every game, you never know. Chemistry is a really important thing. I’ve played sport long enough to know you can’t really rule anybody out.”
Maybe, but here’s a release of what the league’s GMs think. The full tally can be found on the WNBA’s website:
2013 WNBA.COM GM SURVEY TAPS PHOENIX MERCURY TO WIN TITLE
– L.A. Sparks’ Candace Parker Picked to Win MVP Honors –
– Seattle Fans Again Provide Storm Best Home-Court Advantage –
– Minnesota Lynx Selected as Team that’s Most Fun to Watch –
March 15, 2013 at 12:00 PM
Storm PG Sue Bird announced this week she’ll undergo left knee surgery to remove a cyst beneath her knee cap. The procedure is set for May 9 and will cause the All-Star to miss the 2013 WNBA season. Bird already had surgery on her left hip in October 2012.
Bird, 32, will return to Seattle shortly after surgery to complete rehabilitation and be part of the team. Her guaranteed base salary of $107,500 counts toward the Storm’s maximum $913,000 salary cap. Brian Agler, the Storm’s general manager and coach, signed veteran Temeka Johnson to help fill Bird’s position while returning G Tanisha Wright can also handle running the offense.
But Seattle is also without three-time MVP Lauren Jackson (hamstring) and her intended fill-in Ann Wauters (family), whose contracts do not count against the cap. It’s the first time since the Storm’s inception in 2000 that it played without Jackson or Bird, back-to-back No. 1 overall draft picks in 2001 and 2002.
Bird communicated via her agent about needing to undergo surgery. Here are her Q&A responses.
Q: Are you still in Russia traveling with UMMC Ekaterinburg playing right now?
Bird: Yes, right now I’m in Russia helping my team prepare for the EuroLeague final 8. As I’m sure you know I’m not playing in that but will resume play once the Russian League starts up again.
Q: Lauren mentioned speaking with you before she opted to have surgery, did you share your situation with her?
Bird: Once I knew surgery was the definite option Lauren was one of the first people I told.
February 26, 2013 at 10:02 AM
The Storm has made moves to compensate for three-time MVP Lauren Jackson being out due to injury and to get younger overall. Do you think that will help it build on its WNBA record nine-consecutive playoff berths to have a successful season? Vote below.
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