9 September 2021

Is it time for Canberra to formally recognise Lauren Jackson’s greatness?

| Tim Gavel
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Lauren Jackson playing basketball

Lauren Jackson is recognised worldwide for her contribution to basketball, and the time has come for Canberra to formally do the same. Photo: Basketball Australia.

This week, Lauren Jackson received yet another accolade in recognition of her incredible basketball career.

No, it wasn’t in Canberra where she was instrumental in leading the UC Capitals to four WNBL titles, along with the championship won in 1998 while she was part of the all-conquering AIS team.

Jackson was instead named in the WNBA’s top 25 players in the league’s 25-year history.

Previously, in 2006, she was named in the top 10 players of the WNBA’s first decade.

If nothing else, this latest accolade prompts a reflection on Jackson’s achievements in the strongest women’s basketball competition in the world.

During her WNBA career with Seattle Storm, which began in 2001, Lauren accumulated honour after honour. In fact, there wasn’t an award she was eligible for that she didn’t win: two WNBA titles, WNBA MVP, WNBA Finals MVP, WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, WNBA All-Star team, and the list goes on.

This week’s recognition comes on top of being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, becoming the first Australian player to be elevated to this honour. Fellow Australian Lindsay Gaze was inducted in recognition of his coaching record.

When Jackson was told she would be inducted into the US basketball hall of fame earlier this year, she explained to American news network NBCSNW that she was overwhelmed at becoming the first Australian player to be afforded the honour.

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When she retired from the WNBA, her number 15 jersey was retired and hoisted to the rafters at Seattle Storm’s home stadium, Climate Pledge Arena.

In Australia, Jackson’s record is even more impressive, winning five WNBL titles, WNBL MVP four times, being a WNBL All-Star five times, and a four-time WNBL Grand Final MVP. In 2003, she was the league MVP in both the WNBL and the WNBA.

She led Australia to three silver medals at the Olympics and a world title in 2006. The following year she was named MVP in the Korean Basketball League.

I would argue Jackson boasts one of the greatest records in world sport in terms of making an impact on that particular sport.

She is arguably ‘the Bradman of women’s sport’, yet in Canberra – where she joined the AIS as a 16-year-old before taking on the world – there is little recognition.

In Albury, Jackson’s home city, there is a basketball stadium named in her honour.

We have recognition for plenty of male athletes in Canberra, and it’s about time we seriously looked at how we can honour one of the greatest athletes Australia has ever seen.

The impact Jackson had on Canberra basketball makes it even more relevant.

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The only thing about her that I remember was the ad on the side of buses where they digitally removed her tattoos. That seems to be her only connection with Canberra. Many people believed that she was some kind of local sporting superstar but it was all in their imagination.

Capital Retro12:23 pm 15 Sep 21

Correct.

She was born and raised in Albury has planned to settle back there with her partner and family. As a professional sportsperson she worked in Canberra for a few years but spent more of her playing career overseas.

I’ll bet that some people on this blog would hope that Alan Jones could be digitally removed from adverting spaces on buses like her tatts were.

She did help raise the idea that Canberrans might be swots, but also loved sport.

Capital Retro4:43 pm 15 Sep 21

Swots? What does that mean?

bridget murphy9:54 am 13 Sep 21

There’s already a stadium in her name plus There’s heaps of things that can be renamed in Canberra, name a main road after her the next highway we build here

Capital Retro10:02 am 13 Sep 21

We could call the rainbow roundabout in Braddon after her, too.

Capital Retro9:32 am 13 Sep 21

Her Albury connection is much stronger that her Canberra one so let’s not get too carried away with our expectations:

https://australia.basketball/blog/2011/03/29/albury-sports-stadium-renamed-in-honour-of-lauren-jackson/

For some reason, Canberrans do not like to recognise their sporting heros. This one is long overdue. Who is the Sports Minister with enough courage to take this on?

Long overdue.

And another indicator of our society’s – still in place habit – of not fully and fairly getting our other – if not better – halves.

Our women!

When my wife found out that my nickname for her was The Minister for War & Finance – aka TMFW&F – through other membesr of our walking group – she was a bit ticked off – until…

She realised that it is, was and always will be a measure of my respect and regard for our partnership and her encouragement of me.

I do sometimes here remind folk of their not having to queue for Medicare and Private Health rebates, a change I did put in place.

But the degree in MgmtScience. that got me that job – was due to TMFW&F – who made me go back to UNI and,finally – FINISH – a degree!

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