‘Mind-blowing’: Jackson first Australian player in basketball Hall of Fame

Former Opals and WNBA star Lauren Jackson has been elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2021.

The Albury-born 40-year-old was a seven-time All-Star and three-time WNBA MVP (2003, 2007, 2010) who helped the Seattle Storm win championships in 2004 and 2010. The 196cm forward/centre was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2001 draft.

Lauren Jackson after the Opals won the FIBA World Championship final in 2006.Credit:Andre Penner

“I’m just a girl from country NSW who worked hard to be the best I could be and if that inspires others to follow in my footsteps and chase their own goals and aspirations, then that’s the most enriching Award I can receive.

“To everyone who has played a role in my life and basketball career to date, all I can say is ‘thank you’ from the bottom of my heart; this Hall of Fame honour is as much yours as it is mine.”

Also a member of the All-Decade Team announced in 2006, Jackson averaged 18.9 points and 7.7 rebounds in 317 games (all starts) with the Storm from 2001-12.

The Class of 2021 will be enshrined in Springfield, Massachusetts, on September 11.

“On behalf of Basketball Australia and the Australian Basketball community, I want to congratulate Lauren (Jackson),” said Basketball Australia interim chairman John Carey.

“Lauren is Australia’s greatest ever basketballer and a true pioneer of women’s sport.

“No other Australian basketballer has achieved the level of success that Lauren has, and her pending induction into the Naismith Hall of Fame is a reflection of her incredible accomplishments.

“The significance of this recognition cannot be understated, it’s a landmark day for Australian sport, and it’s only fitting that Lauren is set to become the first Australian athlete to be inducted as a player.”

Coach Lindsay Gaze is the only other Australian in the Hall of Fame after being inducted six years ago.

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