Former WNBA star Lauren Jackson savors each day of her return

NEW YORK (AP) – Lauren Jackson is savoring every minute of her basketball return, though the battle-tested Australian hoops icon knows she can’t do the things that haunted fans before retiring from the sport six years ago. She was attracted

No, he’s not “LJ”. This chapter belongs to the now 41-year-old mother, and her return is making headlines.

“I don’t know when the last day will be. It’s been a slow process,” Jackson said in an interview with The Associated Press last week while training with the Australian national team in New York. “I can’t believe I I am back here. This is very strange. It’s been fun, a real journey. ,

Jackson’s body dissuades her and forces her to withdraw from the sport she loves, and she doesn’t know how long it will last.

Almost 10 months after starting his comeback, Jackson is on the short-list to play for the Australian national team at next month’s FIBA ​​World Cup in Sydney. He helped Australia win the gold medal at the 2006 World Cup in Brazil.

“I get so emotional talking about it. I never thought I would represent Australia again,” said the four-time WNBA MVP. “I cried on the way to the first game on the bus against Canada Felt because I was wearing green and gold again. My life has changed a lot and I am not the person I used to be as an athlete.”

Even though 6-foot-5 Jackson isn’t the same player who averaged 18.9 points in her WNBA career for Seattle, she can still compete with the best.

Jackson said she was stronger than when she played for the Storm and helped them win two championships. He won league titles in Australia, Spain and Russia, as well as three Olympic silver medals and a bronze.

“I played two Olympics with her, she’s still very good,” said Australian national team coach Sandy Brondello. “She’s having her legs back and looking in great shape. She studies well. She’s not the LJ she was six years ago, but she definitely still shows a lot of LJ-like moves.”

Jackson retired from playing in 2016 after his career was derailed due to knee injuries. She had hoped to participate in the Olympics that year, but an ACL injury put an end to that dream. He stopped playing in the WNBA in 2012, going down as one of the best players in league history.

Jackson had no intention of playing competitively again after having a partial replacement on his right knee and dealing with an ACL tear following a staph infection. , She also admits that she became dependent on painkillers, anti-inflammatory, sleeping pills and anti-depressants towards the end of her playing career.

“I’ll take anything to get out of bed in the morning,” Jackson told the AP.

A little over a year, she tried medical cannabis.

Jackson said she was part of a trial of medical cannabis 13 months ago and it helped. A few months later she started working out again to try to get in basketball shape – she had gained about 50 pounds since retiring.

She was working out with the coach of her hometown Australian Basketball League team. Allbre team coach Matt Papps told him that he would love for him to return and play.

“People started talking about[playing for Australia]at the time,” Jackson recalled. “I heard that. He’s crazy. When I think too far ahead, I start having panic attacks.

“You can’t look too far ahead. … It was a huge goal. I couldn’t emotionally deal with the way my career ended.”

Australian player Rebecca Allen never got a chance to play alongside Jackson in the national team. Liberty’s Wing was not part of the New York training camp because of schedule conflicts with its WNBA team. But what Jackson is trying to do is not lost on the 29-year-old.

“He is an icon of basketball in the world and one of the best to come out of Australia,” Allen said. “Even to learn from him, and personally for him to overcome obstacles with injuries and to come back and play at such a high potential. You can learn a lot from his experience.

“I was watching him at the Olympics, I loved his sport, his passion. She played with such intensity,” Allen said. “Having that type of personality is an asset. I’m looking forward to playing with him.”

Now playing nearly a dozen games in the Australian league, Jackson said she has overcome some “little hurdles, hurdles and milestones” that she wanted to hit. She will wait and see if she gets selected in the team that will compete in the World Cup.

She knows that her two sons, Harry and Lenny, will be cheering her on if she joins the team for which she won medals at four Olympics and three World Cups.

“It definitely struck me that this could happen,” Jackson said. “My teammates have been incredible. They are so supportive. Hugs me more than I could have asked for. Whatever role I play, it will be a supporting role.

“Such an incredibly special time for me that I never thought I’d be a part of it again. I still shed tears about it.”

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