Lauren Jackson knows there’s doubt but she won’t retire from the WNBA despite playing just 22 games the past four seasons for the Storm because of injuries. The latest is her right hip, which the Australian had surgically repaired on Tuesday.
Speaking from her hospital bed in Melbourne, Jackson was groggy, yet adamant. She said she plans to play by November and has a goal of being in a Storm uniform in 2015.
“I’m sure people doubt whether I can make a full comeback, but I can’t think like that,” she said. “I know I have potential, and I want to go out on a good note. I don’t have anything to prove. I’ve just had too good of a career there (Seattle) to let that fall by the wayside.”
Jackson, a three-time WNBA MVP, missed the 2013 Storm season due to a right hamstring injury and the 2014 season due to a right knee injury suffered last winter in China. She underwent surgery in February and tried to rush rehab to return to play for her national team in the FIBA World Championships this month.
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Her knee wasn’t healing, however, prompting another examination. On Monday it was decided Jackson could no longer delay surgery on her hip, which doctors say is the root of all her problems in her right leg.
Jackson’s timetable to recover from the procedure is eight weeks, which is expected to be enough time to also finish rehabilitating her knee.
Jackson, a 6-foot-6 center, said she originally tore her right labrum in 2012. She was in the midst of leading Spain to a EuroLeague championship, landing awkwardly after a shot. She opted not to have surgery to compete in the London Games.
She returned to Seattle after the Olympics, but was limited to nine WNBA games and a first-round playoff exit due to the nagging injury. Returning is a decision Jackson says she regrets now.
But returning in 2015 was a motivator for Tuesday’s surgery. Jackson will first play in her country’s WNBL for the Canberra Capitals. Jackson, 33, signed a three-year deal with the league worth approximately $900,000 but hasn’t been able to play.
The final year of her Storm contract was suspended in 2013 and dissolved under the new collective-bargaining agreement signed in 2014. Seattle did retain Jackson’s rights.
“I don’t think people realize what Seattle has meant to me,” said Jackson, who was drafted with the top overall pick in 2001 and led Seattle to two WNBA championships. “The last two years without it has been just horrible. I’ve had to go through a lot of stuff, and the rehab has been a nightmare. But I feel really confident (about returning) … I think that will show in my play.”
Storm coach Brian Agler said he’s kept in contact with Jackson and will monitor her progress.
The Storm finished last season 12-22, missing the postseason for the first time since 2003.
“Everybody in Seattle has been disappointed with Lauren not being here,” Agler said. “(But) I don’t even know if we can get into any discussion about her until we know that she’s healthy enough to play.”