'Dream come true': Lauren Jackson's shock return to basketball at 40

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·Sports Editor
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Lauren Jackson, pictured here in action for the Opals in 2006.
Lauren Jackson in action for the Opals in 2006. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

Aussie basketball legend Lauren Jackson has announced her shock return to the sport at age 40, paving the way for an incredible comeback at this year's World Cup.

Arguably the best female player in history, the Hall of Fame member is a three-time WNBA MVP, four-time WNBL MVP, four-time Olympian, five-time WNBL champion and seven-time WNBA All-Star.

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Jackson retired from basketball in 2016 due to a chronic knee injury, but will return for her hometown club Albury Wodonga in the upcoming NBL1 season.

“When I played in America and Europe, overseas living the dream, there were times when I just wished I played for Albury at home, so it’s a bit of a dream come true,” Jackson told News Corp.

“I haven’t really played for eight years and I haven’t played a game yet so I’ve got not idea what to expect.

“After a couple of months of playing NBL1, who knows how I’m going to feel, what I’m going to be doing or how I’ll be playing, it’s a complete unknown."

Her shock return comes months before the FIBA World Cup in Sydney in September, with Jackson now a legitimate prospect to add another world championship gold medal to her 2006 triumph.

The news of Jackson's return comes with Liz Cambage's Opals career seemingly over, the WNBA centre declaring she had "zero" interest in the program after her late Olympics withdrawal that followed an incident in a warm-up game.

Jackson, 40, has the backing of Opals coach Sandy Brondello, while another WNBL campaign now beckons for Basketball Australia's women and girls strategy boss should she get through the NBL1 season unscathed.

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"We're just over the moon that Lauren's playing for her hometown and her home club," Albury Wodonga Bandits President Luke 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."

Lauren Jackson, pictured here in action for Australia at the 2012 Olympics in London.
Lauren Jackson in action for Australia at the 2012 Olympics in London. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Jackson's Opals injection could be just the tonic for the World Cup hosts, who struggled without Cambage at the Tokyo Games to be humbled in the quarter-finals.

They've since dropped one place to No.3 in the world and finished third at the Asia Cup late last year.

Jackson credits medical cannabis for restoring her health after a degenerative knee injury denied the four-time Games medallist a fifth Olympics in Rio.

Fans were left stunned by the bombshell news on social media.

with AAP

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