Words by: Luke Hickey
24 hours ago, Australia’s greatest living basketball player announced her retirement. That’s not a typo; Australia’s greatest basketball export has always been a woman. I don’t wanna hear shit about Luc Longley winning with the Jordan Bulls or about how this new Ben Simmons kid is gonna set the NBA on fire in a couple years.
Lauren Jackson, pretty much up until her retirement, thoroughly spanked opposing teams both domestically and internationally, at the Olympics, even in the WNBA. In fact, it was this thorough dedication to running a troop train on the competition that would eventually lead to her retirement; an article by ABC published shortly after Jackson’s announcement revealed the extraordinarily-low pay she received during her playing tenure, forcing her to play more internationally and over-exert herself.
This would have continuing repercussions on Jackson’s relationships, home life, not to mention the knee injuries that eventually forced her out of the sport.
Now, i’m not here to retread the wage-gap argument or some “there isn’t any money in women’s basketball, everyone knows that” tripe. The fact that Jackson represented Australia at the highest level of play internationally and domestically and had to pay for her own plane tickets is disgusting. The fact that, in her prime, she was averaging 22 points and 9 rebounds in the WNBA, becoming a three-time MVP, two-time Champion, and STILL had to play international friendlies each other week to pay the bills is shameful.
And the fact that, across all leagues, Lauren Jackson may be the only Australian to compete in an American sport and not just be successful, but dominant, shows a concerted effort by governing bodies to demonstrate that she is just not as important as the men who play these sports.
I mean there are dudes in the NBA who’s only purpose for suiting up each night is to stroll onto the hardwood to soak up a few fouls while the actual players with talent get a quick breather. Now understand that these tall scrubs would make probably three or four times that of Jackson, while also being able to enjoy time off, complete their degrees and have children.
She deserved better, that’s all.