LJ gets her fairytale farewell with performance that will long be remembered

With a World Cup bronze medal hanging in the balance early in the third quarter, Opals head coach Sandy Brondello called on Lauren Jackson for one last effort in the green and gold.

Seven minutes later, the game was over.

Jackson eviscerated the Canada defence, pouring in 13 points during the stretch, two more than the opposition for the entire quarter.

In total, the 41-year-old tallied 30 points, seven rebounds and two steals in a sizzling 21-minute outburst before checking out of the game to a standing ovation with 2:22 to play and the Opals leading 93-62.

"I wasn't even thinking. I think I was so emotional from the beginning of the match. I just wanted to win, I just wanted to get the team back on the podium and be a part of that," an emotional Jackson said postgame. "That was all I was thinking, I didn't even realise I had that many points until the end."

Jackson's outburst was a beautiful reminder of the multi-faceted dominance that has typified her Hall of Fame career. At times struggling for fluid offence throughout the tournament, the formula suddenly became simple for Australia. Get the ball to Jackson and get out of the way.

"She's the goat for a reason. She can shoot the piss out of it when she wants to and that's what she did tonight, she was unstoppable," Opals star Steph Talbot told ESPN.

"She's the easiest person I've ever had to pass to, I was just lobbing it up there and she was bringing it in. It was massive for us, we had the game by the string and she just tore it apart in that third quarter, literally tore it apart."

The prettiest of turnaround jumpers meshed with raw brutality as Jackson proved far too strong, far too skillful and far too good, lifting Australia to victory one last time in front of adoring fans, both old and new.

"Lauren's played for many, many years but to see her go out (like that), I mean who scores 30 points anyway?" Brondello said with a laugh.

"We moved her to the block a little bit more, I just thought that was going to be our best opportunity for her. We needed to get an inside presence; they had some bigs there but not the calibre of Lauren Jackson. I didn't think in the beginning we were getting inside as much until Lauren changed the game with her presence inside."

Along with Talbot, guard Sami Whitcomb had logged major minutes throughout the tournament, with the pair averaging north of 27 minutes per night.

"Thank god," Whitcomb told ESPN of Jackson's performance.

"How wonderful that she was able to do that, that she was able to step up in moments where I felt wrecked, other people felt wrecked. We were trying to push through but it was really important. Don't get me wrong, LJ is wrecked too, she's playing on a broken body but to be able to step up when maybe we are feeling a bit fatigued and empty whatever she had, it's what makes it so special."

Once a mentor to a teenage Jackson as a teammate, Brondello shed a tear as she reflected on the journey that led to her magical curtain call as an Opal.

"I'm getting emotional. She's amazing. The work that she did to get back and play at this level is unheard of. She inspired me, I think she inspired the team. We didn't know if her body could hold up, we couldn't just give it to her, she was picked on merit. It was the right decision," she said with a laugh.

"I'm really proud of her, I got to play with Lauren, but there was no player as mentally tough as her. She's a real softy off the court, we were both crying before the game.

"It's just her mental toughness, I've coached a lot of great players but she's pretty special in that. She deserves it, she's been such a great leader and the girls just love her. I'm just happy we got the bronze and she can go out on her own terms now."

Understandably exhausted, Jackson delivered one last classic in the green and gold, adding a fourth World Cup medal to her collection of four Olympic medals.

Jackson didn't need the performance or another medal for her legacy, that was secure long ago. But it did provide a picture perfect close to a career that stands alongside the best the game has ever seen.

"I could never have dreamed of this," Jackson said. "The fact that it's over, nothing is bittersweet about it, it's so special and I've had the ride of my life. Doing it here, the crowds we've been getting are remarkable. It's perfect, for me it's been perfect.

"This journey, it's just been the most humbling but incredible ten months of my life. I said to Sandy after the game, thank you for selecting me because it's given me an opportunity to play the sport I love in front of Australia again. To say goodbye this way, it's magnificent. I couldn't have imagined it.

"My kids, they're only babies, I've spent a lot of time away from them the last couple of months. It's too hard on me and it's too hard on them. They need their mummy and I need my babies.

The last words in her last press conference as an Opals player?

"I'm done."