Lauren Jackson On Her Return to Seattle, Storm Career

Seven-time All-Star, three-time scoring champion and league MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, two-time champion… If there’s an award in the WNBA, Lauren Jackson has won it. The 6-5 forward from New South Wales, Australia and 2001 first overall pick will now add another accolade to her ever-expanding mantle.

On Friday evening Jackson will see her Seattle Storm No. 15 ascend to the rafters to never be worn again within the franchise. It will be the first time since 2012 she has returned to the arena where she found so much success. LJ spent the entirety of her 12-year WNBA career in the great northwest wearing the electric green of the Storm. The definition of a two-way post player, she averaged double-digit scoring each season while her 586 career blocks are the third most all-time. Jackson is widely regarded as the greatest foreign-born player in WNBA history.

Ahead of her ever-lasting moment of enshrinement, Jackson met with reporters to discuss everything from her choice of the number 15, to the city of Seattle, to the players in the WNBA she most admires.

(On being measured as one of the greatest players in WNBA history)
“I had a really great career here and I’m so thankful that I got the opportunity to compete here in America for so long. I don’t really look at myself alongside some of the other great players that have played in this league. I think that all of us were fairly unique. It’s all a bit of a blur to be honest, coming back. It’s bizarre.”

(Favorite part of playing in the WNBA)
“I think that because America is so important to women’s basketball and this league, I always wanted to be the best that I could be here. I was just talking to the team and that was one of the points I made, that it didn’t matter where I was in the world, I always trained harder, put in more hours in the gym, shot more, did everything that I could here in America because I wanted to be the best here and that drove me. I guess that’s a testament to this league and how much respect I have for it. Not a day goes by I don’t miss being over here and playing, it’s kind of sad actually.”

(On the Storm’s support)
“The support that I’ve had from America, the fans and the people over here has been amazing. I think that’s the one thing that I’ll always take with me and never forget, how loyal and caring the fans are about the players.

Everything that I’ve been through the past few years, the Storm fans have been with me and supported me. They’ve followed me after and it’s been unbelievable, really. In Australia we don’t have support like that. There are a few people but not in the numbers that I get from here. That’s something that I think is beautiful.”

(On number reasoning behind number 15)
“My mother used to wear number fifteen and she was my hero, idol and best friend growing up and I wanted to follow in her footsteps. I took her number as soon as I could get it.”

(On memories being reflected on)
“I didn’t realize how much I would be flooded with emotion. At the airport yesterday it kind of hit me at once. The memories, playing at KeyArena, it’s actually quite overwhelming. I didn’t realized how much I missed it. Being back here is almost too much.”

(On being back in the city of Seattle)
“The first thing I did was go to the Metropolitan Market which is like a grocery store here but I call it my spiritual home. I went there and stocked up on goodies and all things Seattle which is fun. There are a lot of things here like record stores, places I used to hangout in that I really missed and we don’t really have that stuff in Australia so I’ve missed everything about Seattle and almost want to move back.”

(On the team’s new young duo of Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd)
“It’s really important for the young girls to have Sue. She’s such a great leader. I think a lot of her basketball and cultural values are being passed on and that’s so important. It’s hard watching it because I wish I was still playing and could be part of it, but they might not have had the same opportunity to get two first picks if I was still playing. I hope they start winning championships and are as successful as Sue and I were. Sue will lead and teach them fantastically.”

(On players she admires)
“When Sylvia Fowles came into the league, I always had trouble with her because she’s so strong, in the post in particular. She definitely gave me grief. You have to get up and go though. I guess Lisa [Leslie] and her stand out as individual players.”