Possibly the finest player in the Women’s National Basketball Association this decade, Lauren Jackson reminded basketball fans in 2010 that experience, maturity and talent are an awesome combo platter on the menu of leadership skills. At 29, Jackson’s body has experienced enough bruises and breaks to qualify her for a lifetime of guest appearances on Grey’s Anatomy. This past season, though, she stayed comparatively healthy—a mild concussion here, a sprained thumb there—and led the Seattle Storm to its second WNBA title.
It was Jackson’s 10th season with the Storm, and clearly her best. The 6-foot-5 Australian was named the Western Conference Player of the Week five times during the 14-week regular season, Western Conference Player of the Month for May, June and July, and, somewhat predictably, the league’s Most Valuable Player for the third time.
Sandy Brondello, who has been a teammate of Jackson’s with the Storm and with Australia’s national women’s team, the Opals, waxes generous when discussing her countrywoman. “She’s the best player in the world,” says Brondello, head coach of the San Antonio Silver Stars. “She’s amazing, and she gets better and better.”
Storm coach Brian Agler says what makes Jackson complete is her desire to play stout defense. “There are going to be a lot of players with [offensive] numbers in this league,” Agler says, “but no one can do both like her.”
This aversion to being one-dimensional is classic Jackson. She knows her basketball career will end someday—she’d like to play until she’s 35—so she is pursuing a degree in gender studies at Macquarie University outside Sydney and hopes one day to help women who have suffered discrimination, dislocation and disenfranchisement.
“You grow into a role like that,” Jackson says.
She is talking about leadership on the basketball court, but it seems she is well on her way to making the transition.
Published November 2010
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