In the first of our Famous Fan Friday series, sydneyswans.com.au spoke to Aussie basketball legend Lauren Jackson about her love of the Sydney Swans.
If this weekend’s Sydney Derby is a battle for NSW fans, then Australian basketball champion Lauren Jackson has already picked her side.
The Seattle Storm forward, who has been granted a season of leave from her WNBA commitments to recover from knee and ankle surgery, will be back home in Australia this year and will be supporting her beloved ‘Swannies’ throughout the 2014 season.
Despite playing with WNBL side the Canberra Capitals during the off-season for more than a decade, Jackson told sydneyswans.com.au that she’ll never stop supporting the red and white.
“One of my really good friends, Dean Brogan, was actually playing for GWS last year and I think the cross-town rivalry is already a lot of fun,” she said.
“It’s been funny because (GWS) have also got an affiliation with Canberra and I spent a lot of my time in Canberra.
“I ran into a couple of the GWS guys last year, but I’m still a Swannies fan all the way.
“I can’t see that ever changing.”
Jackson, who grew up in the town of Albury on the NSW border, began her support for the Swans at a young age after being inspired by her uncles who played in the Ovens and Murray Football League.
But Jackson’s love for the club really took off when a talented forward by the name of Barry Hall joined the Swans’ ranks at the end of the 2001 season.
“There was one guy who used to play for the Swans that I did love called Barry Hall,” she said.
“I just loved him.
“I think I really sort of jumped on board with the Swannies around the time he was playing as well.”
Coincidently, 2001 also marked a life-changing event for Jackson, who was selected as the WNBA’s number one draft pick by the Seattle Storm at just 19 years of age.
Despite being the WNBA’s youngest ever number one draftee, Jackson blossomed at the Storm and went on to become a two-time WNBA champion and a seven-time All Star player.
After spending many years abroad, including stints in Russia, Spain and China, the four-time Olympian said she was looking forward to spending time at home and supporting her favourite NSW teams.
“It’s really difficult to stay in touch with it when you’re overseas but I do like to support all of the codes,” she said.
“I think just showing my love for Aussie sport, particularly football, is a huge culture at home.
“I think this year is going to be one of those years where I throw myself into all the things I miss out on when I’m living overseas.
“I’m definitely going to do a couple of road trips and I’ve promised my dad and my uncle that we’ll all get down for some Swannies games and also Wests Tigers games, because I’m a fan of them too.”
Aside from planning trips to the Harbour City, Jackson has been spending time with her parents Gary and Maree in the NSW south coast town Tuross whilst going through her rehab process.
Despite being sidelined for the next six months, Jackson was recently selected for the upcoming basketball World Championships in Turkey, which will be her focus going forward.
“(Basketball Australia) have been really supportive and they want that veteran leadership probably leading into the World Championships and they’ve committed to helping me with my rehab and everything,” she said.
“It’s good because it’s going to keep me relatively fit and in the best hands.”