Three-time WNBA MVP Lauren Jackson, who was forced to retire from the league following the 2012 season due to injuries, has been named to the Australian team for the upcoming FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup at the age of 41.
It's the pinnacle of what has been a noteworthy comeback for the Hall of Famer.
Sandy Brondello, the New York Liberty and Australian team coach, told Jackson on Tuesday that she had made the team in an emotional exchange posted on social media. Brondello, also a former WNBA player, once played alongside Jackson on the national team.
"Congratulations, Lauren Jackson, you're going to another World Cup," Brondello said. "You should be incredibly proud, Lauren. And I am incredibly proud, because what you did to achieve this, it really is amazing. It shows a lot about you as a person and your hard work and dedication. Hey, you put your mind to it, and here it is."
A choked up Jackson replied, "Wow, thank you," before adding, "I have been working my body hard, and I didn't honestly know if it was going to hold up to my intense training regime, but it has and I'm feeling good."
It will be Jackson's fifth World Cup appearance. Current WNBA players Bec Allen and Sami Whitcomb (Liberty), Ezi Magbegor and Steph Talbot (Storm) and Kristy Wallace (Dream) were also named to the Australian team.
Jackson last week visited Seattle to honor former Storm teammate Sue Bird, 41, who is retiring after this WNBA season. Now, as the five-time Olympian Bird will be stepping away from the game, Jackson will return to international competition at the FIBA World Cup, which will be held in Australia from Sept. 22-Oct. 1.
Jackson, at the age of 19, was selected No. 1 overall in the 2001 WNBA draft by Seattle and won WNBA titles with the Storm in 2004 and 2010. In her 12-season WNBA career, all with the Storm, she averaged 18.9 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.8 blocked shots.
Her MVP awards came in 2003, 2007 and 2010, and she was also named MVP of the 2010 WNBA Finals. Jackson ranks first, second and fifth on the list of all-time best player efficiency ratings by season in the WNBA.
She previously had been a member of the Australian women's national team, called the Opals, since she was a teenager; she played in the 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics, winning three silver medals and a bronze. Jackson also played four times in the FIBA World Cup when it was previously called the FIBA World Championship, winning a gold medal in 2006 and bronze in 1998 and 2002.
Both of Jackson's parents, Gary and Maree, competed in basketball for Australia as well, and Maree also played collegiately in the United States at LSU.
The 6-foot-5 Jackson has been inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame and the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. The center/power forward was part of the more modern era of post players who were dominant on the low block as scorers and rebounders, while also strong at shooting facing the basket.
Jackson played in her home country after she left the WNBA, but chronic, severe knee issues forced her to step away from the sport entirely in 2016, and at that time she never expected to compete again. She then gave birth to two sons. Jackson subsequently was approved to use medicinal cannabis and gradually was able to resume playing.