Australian basketball legend Lauren Jackson has made a sensational return to the sport in her first outing since retiring.
Lauren Jackson has made a sensational return to basketball in her first game since coming out of retirement.
The Australian basketball legend announced earlier this year she was making her return for the Albury Wodonga Bandits in the country’s second-tier NBL1 competition.
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Jackson is a three-time WNBA MVP, four-time WNBL MVP, four-time Olympian, five-time WNBL champion and seven-time WNBA All-Star.
Chronic knee injuries forced Jackson to retire before the 2016 Rio Olympics but her knees have recovered thanks to an exemption for medicinal cannabis.
She reportedly lost a staggering 17kg as she prepared her body for hitting the hardwood again.
The 40-year-old made her much-anticipated return to the court on Saturday night for the Bandits in their NBL1 clash with the Central Coast Crusaders.
And Jackson didn’t miss a beat. She put on an absolute clinic as Albury Wodonga cruised to a 78-61 victory in the NBL1 East competition.
Jackson topscored for the Bandits with 21 points including five three-pointers, as well as five rebounds and a block.
She opened her account with a fluid catch-and-shoot three-pointer that swished the bottom of the net.
Jackson also showed her class on the defensive end of the floor, using her height to reject a shot off Central Coast’s Sara Matthews.
It was an emphatic performance from Australia’s best ever basketball player in her first outing in six years.
It will do little to quell suggestions Jackson could even don the green and gold again in a World Cup.
The FIBA women’s World Cup takes place in Sydney in September and the Opals will be desperate to put up better performances than what they showed at the Tokyo Olympics.
The Opals had a dismal Olympic campaign last year, knocked out in the quarter-finals after a tumultuous lead-in that saw Liz Cambage pull out before the tournament started.
Earlier this year, Albury Wodonga Bandits President Luke Smith said he was thrilled to see Jackson return to basketball.
“We’re just over the moon that Lauren’s playing for her hometown and her home club,” Smith said.
“It’s huge for the Albury Wodonga Bandits and for the Albury Wodonga community.
“I think it’s going to be a really big year and we’re really looking forward to her playing in a stadium named after herself and in front of her friends, family and her two boys.
“They’re at the age where they’ll be able to remember seeing their mum play, not only basketball, but basketball at home too.”
“Our young players are going to have a massive opportunity to play and train with arguably the world’s best ever female basketball player. It’s huge for them, it’s huge for every kid and it’s huge for every basketball player in Albury Wodonga.”
Originally published as Lauren Jackson makes stunning return to basketball after coming out of retirement