Lauren Jackson wins WNBA MVP

Seattle Storm center/forward Lauren Jackson on Thursday was named the WNBA's most valuable player for the third time and Seattle coach Brian Agler the league's coach of the year.

The pair was honored before Game 1 of the Western Conference finals Thursday when the Storm played host to the Phoenix Mercury.

"The award itself, I never would have got it if we hadn't achieved what we had," Jackson told the Seattle Times. "And I know for a fact that if Sue [Bird] wasn't my point guard, I would have never got the award. Everybody played such a huge part and I'm really fortunate I got to play with these guys this year and that everyone is so focused on winning."

Jackson, who also won the MVP in 2003 and 2007, helped the Storm to the conference finals. She averaged 20.5 points and 8.3 rebounds a game this season.

The Storm finished with a 28-6 record, the best in the league. They were 17-0 at home.

Agler credited Bird for helping him win his award.

"It's the one individual award that's impacted by multiple people [and not] just the person who receives it," Agler told the Times. "What are we going to do without Lauren? What are we going to do without Swin Cash? But when all of this shakes out, the one person that has impacted this all the most, especially coach of the year, is Sue Bird. Sue makes your team operate at an extremely high level."

Finally healthy, Jackson again showed why she is considered one of the top players in the world. After battling ankle and back problems that cost her parts of the previous two seasons, Jackson managed her health in 2010 and the Storm benefited.

Jackson scored 20 or more points in 16 of her 32 games this season, sitting out twice simply for rest as the Storm raced to a 22-3 start and coasted to the finish. Jackson finished fourth in the league in scoring.

Jackson was previously league MVP in 2007 when she averaged a career-best 23.8 points, and in 2003 when she was the first international player and youngest player to ever receive the award.

Jackson is the youngest player, and fastest, in WNBA history to score 3,000 and 4,000 career points and was voted to the WNBA's All-Decade Team. She has averaged 19.5 points and 7.9 rebounds over her nine-year career.

Jackson, a native of Albury, Australia, was the No. 1 pick of the Storm in 2001.

Agler is in his second head-coaching job in the WNBA after being the first coach of the Minnesota Lynx from 1999 to 2002. After marginal success with the Lynx, Agler has found greater success in Seattle.

In three seasons with the Storm, Agler has led Seattle to 68 victories in the regular season. Seattle finally shook its five-year playoff curse and advanced out of the first round of the playoffs with a sweep of Los Angeles last week.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.