Lauren Jackson was back at KeyArena on Thursday, watching the Storm practice and participating in a number of interviews with media. Her jersey No. 15 will be retired by the franchise in a postgame ceremony after Friday’s contest against the Mystics. Here are some highlights from what Jackson said Thursday while reflecting on her WNBA career in Seattle.
On the Storm’s support over the years:
The support that I’ve had from America, the fans and the people over here has been amazing. I think that’s the one thing that I’ll always take with me and never forget, how loyal and caring the fans are about the players. Everything that I’ve been through the past few years, the Storm fans have been with me and supported me. They’ve followed me and it’s been unbelievable, really. In Australia we don’t have support like that. There are a few people but not in the numbers that I get from here. That’s something that I think is beautiful.
On her favorite part of playing in the WNBA:
I think that because America is so important to women’s basketball and this league, I always wanted to be the best that I could be here. I was talking to the team and that was one of the points I made, that it didn’t matter where I was in the world – I always trained harder, put in more hours in the gym, shot more, did everything that I could here in America because I wanted to be the best here. That drove me, and I guess that’s a testament to this league and how much respect I have for it. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss being over here and playing. It’s kind of sad actually.
On being in Seattle for the first time since 2012:
I didn’t realize how much I would be flooded with emotion. At the airport yesterday, it kind of hit me at once. The memories, playing at KeyArena, it’s actually quite overwhelming. I didn’t realize how much I missed it. Being back here is almost too much.
On always being mentioned as a duo with Sue Bird:
I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a team sport. It’s so great when you actually have somebody that you can say, ‘I played my entire career with this person.’ And that we were able to achieve what we did together, it’s awesome. It’s so weird to be able to share so much history and so much success with one person. People don’t even do that in marriages sometimes. We’re lucky.
On how long it took for retirement to sink in:
I think I am still going through it a little bit – especially coming back to Seattle and being in this environment. I focused so much on trying to get back to the court that I think I put my feeling about not being here to the side in order to focus on my rehab. But when we landed in Seattle yesterday, I was crying. I don’t think I realized how affected I was by the retirement.
On this year’s Storm team:
I have followed them a little bit. With Sue and Abby [Bishop] on the team, I want to see how they’re doing and stuff like that. I haven’t been an avid fan. The first couple of years were really hard because I was injured and wanted to be here, but I’m just now getting back into it from a fan’s perspective. They are really young and talented.
On starting a new job with the Melbourne Boomers:
I wanted to stay involved in basketball in Australia, but I wanted it to be more in the business world. So I got this opportunity to be a board member and also have a 9-to-5 job for a couple days a week. That will give me work experience, which I’m excited about. Otherwise I would get bored. I probably wouldn’t be doing anything if it didn’t come up.