Jackson has been called everything from great, to spectacular, to Most Valuable Player, and it has all been warranted. She’s one other thing, too: underrated.

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Forget Griffey, Largent or Payton for now. Forget the Big Unit and Beast Mode, too. Famous as those guys are, legendary as their careers were, none ruled his game like a certain blonde-locked Aussie.

You want to know who the most dominant athlete in Seattle pro sports history is? You want to know who’s at the pinnacle of the Emerald City’s peerless?

Then pop into Key Arena when you get a chance sometime. Her number 15 is hanging from the rafters.

Lauren Jackson’s jersey was retired after the Storm game Friday, and you have to think the WNBA’s collective reaction was “Phew.” The 6-foot-6 center reigned over the league like nobody ever has.

Former Seattle Storm player Lauren Jackson talks about returning to Seattle and the end of her WNBA career with staff reporter Jayda Evans. (Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times)

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That may sound like moment-induced hyperbole — the kind of token exaggeration that follows any career celebration. But it’s true.

Jackson has been called everything from great, to spectacular, to Most Valuable Player, and it has all been warranted. She’s one other thing, too: underrated.

“I think her and Diana Taurasi are the two best to ever play the game,” said Storm point guard Sue Bird, Jackson’s teammate for 11 years.

Kind words from Bird, but that might not be giving LJ enough credit.

We can start with the superficial stats — the three MVPs and two WNBA titles. We can highlight the fact that she led the league in scoring three times and was in the top four nine times. We can throw in the fact that she is in the top 10 all-time in rebounds, and top five in blocks, too.

But trying to grasp Jackson’s supremacy based on those numbers alone is like trying to understand a foreign film without the subtitles.

As sports have evolved, so have the ways in which performance is analyzed. “Moneyball” changed the way a generation viewed baseball production, and advanced basketball stats have followed suit.

They measure efficiency. They underscore true productivity. And they suggest that Lauren Jackson very may well have been the best to ever play the game.

LJ led the league in Player Efficiency Rating six times — the most in WNBA history. The only player in the NBA to do that this century is LeBron James. She led the league in Win Shares — the metric used to approximate how many wins a player adds to her team’s record — five times. That’s also the most in league history.

You could make the case that Jackson only won half the MVPs she deserved; that she was the world’s best women’s basketball player for a solid decade. Was there anyone else in Seattle who could say they were on the top of their respective sport for that long? (for comparison, Ken Griffey Jr. only led the AL in Wins Above Replacement once.)

Jackson’s contributions to the game weren’t lost on her peers, who praised her with video messages during and after the game Friday. Tina Thompson, the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer, gave her a shoutout. All-time assist leader Ticha Penicheiro did, too. Katie Smith and Swin Cash got in the action, as did WNBA President Lisa Borders.

But while those gestures were nice — even poignant at times — they paled in comparison to those who paid tribute to LJ live.

There was former Storm president Karen Bryant, who recalled predicting multiple titles the second Jackson was drafted. There was current Storm coach Jenny Boucek, who recalled the time Jackson went ballistic when she couldn’t find her hidden easter basket one year. And there was Bird, who had the entire arena howling when reminiscing about Jackson’s competitiveness, then found herself crying when Jackson’s exiting the game set in.

“This is going to be the hard part,” said Bird, choking up,” I’m going to miss you.”

Jackson’s eyes were equally misty at that point. She said earlier that she never realized how much she missed Seattle until she returned earlier in the week.

“I grew up in Seattle,” she told the crowd. “I love you guys. I don’t know what else to say.”

No need to say anything else. Her achievements have done all the talking.