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Hoop Hall nominee Lauren Jackson ushered in a new era of the WNBA frontcourt

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Lauren Jackson emerged from Down Under and rose to the top of the WNBA as one of league’s best-ever frontcourt players. At age 39, the WNBA’s former main attraction and two-time champion with the Seattle Storm has been nominated for induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Washington Mystics v Seattle Storm
Lauren Jackson, shown during the retirement ceremony for No. 15 Seattle Storm jersey on July 15, 2016.
Photo by Joshua Huston/NBAE via Getty Images

Lauren Jackson saw her No. 15 Seattle Storm jersey hoisted to the KeyArena rafters on July 15, 2016. One day before the ceremony, Jackson — one of the Storm’s and WNBA’s best-ever frontcourt players —confessed her struggles to fully accept her retirement.

“I think I am still going through it a little bit, especially coming back to Seattle and being in this environment,” she said. “I focused so much on trying to get back to the court that I think I put my feeling about not being here to the side in order to focus on my rehab. But when we landed in Seattle yesterday, I was crying. I don’t think I realized how affected I was by the retirement.”

Jackson may not have been ready, mentally, to hang up her basketball shoes but her body was. Persistent, lingering injuries decided the end point of what had been an illustrious career in her native Australia and in the U.S., where she played her entire WNBA career with the Storm and made eight All-WNBA Teams, appeared in seven All-Star Games, was thrice named league MVP awards and won two championships.

Five years after calling it a career, Jackson, 39, joins Val Ackerman and Yolanda Griffith as candidates for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s 2021 class. Her former Seattle teammate, Swin Cash, was nominated in 2019. Both Jackson and Cash, teammates on the 2010 championship-winning Storm, were inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame with the 2020 class.

Some facts about Jackson, her illustrious career and her Hoop Hall worthiness:


Lauren Jackson, literal game-changer

Essentials

Height: 6’6”

Position: Forward/Center

WNBA experience: 12 years

Nationality: Australian

Known for: Death stare

Seattle Storm v Phoenix Mercury, Game 2 Getty Images

Career highlights

8 All-WNBA Team honors (2003-10)

7 All-WNBA First Team and 1 All-WNBA Second Team (2008)

7 All-Star appearances (2001-03, 2005-07, 2009)

5 All-Defensive Team nods (2005, 2007-10)

3 MVP awards (2003, 2007, 2010)

2 WNBA championships (2004, 2010)

1 Defensive Player of the Year award (2007)

1 Finals MVP award (2010)

Career stats

6,007 career points rank ninth all-time

2,444 total rebounds

1,391 free throws made rank 10th all time

586 blocks rank fifth all-time

317 games played/games started

84.2 percent free-throw shooting ranks sixth all-time (tied with Cappie Pondexter)

46 percent field goal shooting

35.1 percent 3-point shooting

31 career-high points (vs. Sacramento Monarchs in 2004)

18.9 points averaged per game

17 career-high rebounds (vs. Phoenix Mercury in 2010)

7.7 rebounds averaged per game

5.5 defensive rebounds

2.2 offensive rebounds

1.8 blocks averaged per game

1.4 assists averaged per game

1.1 steals averaged per game

1 overall pick in the 2001 WNBA Draft

Hoop Hall worthiness

Jackson not only brought two championships to Seattle, she redefined the WNBA frontcourt position. Listed as a forward/center, Jackson burst into the league flashing what, at the time, was considered uncommon versatility. Not limited to tipping in layups or scooping up rebounds in the paint, Jackson had a reliable midrange game and — like the hybrid players who would follow in her footsteps (Elena Delle Donne, Breanna Stewart and others) — Jackson could step behind the arc and drill a 3-point shot. She brought the seed of positionless basketball up from Down Under and forced the other players in the league to diversify their skill sets, contributing to the WNBA’s reputation as one of the most competitive professional sports leagues in the world.

WATCH: Storm retire Jackson’s No. 15 jersey

Dynamic duo

Jackson and her accomplishments forever will be linked to Sue Bird, the longtime Seattle point guard, whose eagle-eyed court vision and masterful basketball IQ contributed to Jackson’s success. Ahead of her 2016 jersey retirement ceremony, Jackson remarked on their conjoined legacies:

I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a team sport. It’s so great when you actually have somebody that you can say, ‘I played my entire career with this person.’ And that we were able to achieve what we did together, it’s awesome. It’s so weird to be able to share so much history and so much success with one person. People don’t even do that in marriages sometimes. We’re lucky.

All stats provided by WNBA Stats and Basketball Reference.