WNBA great Lauren Jackson’s career appears over with injury

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 04: Lauren Jackson looks on during the round 13 WNBL match between Southside Flyers and Sydney Flames at John Cain Arena, on February 04, 2023, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

Lauren Jackson’s return to basketball may be over after the Australian star suffered an Achilles injury during a tribute game last weekend.

The game between Southside Flyers and Sydney Flames was being played in honor of Jackson, who is set to retire at the end of the WNBL season. In front of a WNBL-record 7,681 fans, Jackson collided with Flames forward Jocelyn Willoughby and had to exit the court just 62 seconds into the game. She later reappeared on crutches.

“The great news is that it’s not my broken foot, it’s the other one,” Jackson joked of the injury.

The Hall of Famer had un-retired at 40 years old last February to play for the Albury Wodonga Bandits, six years after her last professional game.

“For me, I said I was on borrowed time,” she continued. “It’s hard, the way that I feel right now, I don’t know. I’m pretty tough, but when I felt it, I felt something pop. I was just standing there, I said to the referee that I can’t actually walk.

“As soon as I felt it pop, I was like oh my god, that’s my day over. I went to try and walk and I couldn’t. The poor ref, she said she can’t stop the game, I said that’s fine, but I can’t actually move so I don’t know what to do.”

On Thursday, the Flyers announced that Jackson had undergone surgery to repair the Achilles tear as well as an already planned surgery to repair a fracture in her foot. The team added that Jackson will not consider her playing future until after completing “an extensive rehab program.”

In a tweet, Jackson called the last 12 months “the most amazing journey.”

“I’m so thankful,” she wrote. “It’s sad to be here right now but nah this sport has given me soooo much. I’m so lucky.”

Jackson returned from an injury-forced retirement last April before helping the Opals to a bronze medal at the FIBA Women’s World Cup. The 41-year-old played most of her career with the WNBA’s Seattle Storm. She is a three-time WNBA MVP, seven-time WNBA All-Star and two-time WNBA champion.

“While my season is over, I will continue to be part of the team and help where I can, to ensure we continue to work to earn the success we are capable of. I’m very, very proud to be a Flyer,” Jackson said.