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Jackson Deals With Injury

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Kevin Pelton, | August 31, 2009
When Seattle Storm center Lauren Jackson underwent a bone scan Friday afternoon, she was hoping to get clarity on the back injury that had left her in severe pain on the court for the previous two weeks. What Jackson was not anticipating was the discovery that she has a pair of stress fractures in her back, which will sideline her indefinitely.

"I didn't quite expect it to be what they told me it was," Jackson said in the locker room after sitting out Saturday's double-overtime win over Atlanta. "It was a bit of a shock, really. I don't really know what to say. Hopefully I'll be back soon."

One of the questions doctors are seeking to answer as Jackson undergoes further examination today and meets with other specialists is whether the stress fractures were preexisting and have merely flared up lately, or whether they were caused when Jackson injured her back on what seemed like an innocent play late in a game on Aug. 15 at Atlanta.

"I went up for a rebound and I landed and I felt my back crunch," Jackson recalled. "It was right before Brian (Agler) subbed me out. It didn't bother too much, but we went into the locker room and everyone was listening to Brian talk, I remember trying to move back and I was like, 'Holy crap.' Everyone looked at me and I was like, 'I might have hurt my back.'"

Initially, Jackson played through the injury and even scored a season-high 36 points at Detroit three days after hurting her back. However, it failed to respond to rest between games, and doctors continued to search for the source of the pain. The presence of stress fractures, possibly preexisting, was surprising because Jackson never remembers any serious back problems in her life. The only time her back affected her during her Storm career was in the 2005 Playoffs, but that injury was a muscle strain and unrelated to her vertebrae.

The same competitive nature that allowed Jackson to contribute while ailing makes it extraordinarily difficult for her to have to sit out now.

"It sucks," she said of having to miss the Storm's road trip this week. "I think the worst nightmare for any athlete is to have an injury, whether it's a knee or a stress fracture or whatever. I've had so many that I've had to deal with in my career, it's just another one along the road - another hiccup. I'm trying to get back for the playoffs, so I'm going to do everything I can the next couple of weeks to settle it down."

If there is a redeeming aspect of Jackson's injury from her perspective, it is the fact that the Storm has played well without her this season, winning all three games she has missed. The Storm's win on Saturday ran the team's winning streak to a season-long five games, the last four coming with Jackson limited or entirely absent.

"Tonight was just awesome to watch," she said. "I'm so proud of the girls. They're playing awesome. It's always fun to watch them. It's better to be on court."

Currently, Jackson's the Storm is terming Jackson's absence indefinite. She hopes to rejoin her teammates in time for the postseason, which starts two weeks from Wednesday. Is that timetable realistic?

"I don't know yet, to be honest," Jackson said. "On Monday I'm going to do a few more tests, speak more to a few more doctors. I don't think they're completely 100 percent sure about what sort of fractures they are, so they want to find out more about the injury itself and then go from there."