Edited extract from “My Story” by Lauren Jackson (Allen and Unwin)
Dad set up a basketball court at home, a quarter court, and we’d play ‘two on two’, one adult and child against the other two, something we continued to do for many years. It was pretty physical.
Dad, and then Ross as he got older, could be competitive, and I had to step up if I was going to get any points.
I wanted to be a guard like my Dad—I can shoot like him—but I also wanted to be strong for my size like my Mum.
I think I got the best of both of my parents’ respective basketball skills, and Mum and Dad helped me train, but they didn’t box me into one category as a basketballer, or as a person. Dad didn’t tell me to focus on my three-point shots outside the key, Mum didn’t say I only needed to learn how to do a turnaround jump shot (jumping and turning in the air to shoot) or insist that I prioritise my inside game.
I had to learn how to do it all, and I did.
They let me explore basketball as I developed, do what I wanted to do, and it paid off.
Because of my height, I started off playing in teams in the centre position, where you need to be tall and strong to tap the ball away from the opposing centre in the jump-off at the start of the game.
A centre also needs to be able to take the hits, to be tough.
When I was growing up, we watched US National Basketball Association (NBA), men’s basketball, it was the only basketball shown on television here at the time, and as a result I really admired American players like Michael Jordan.
When you watch a NBA championship it’s amazing, the players are so athletic.
Today, players like LeBron James are huge and strong, and physically just superior athletes in comparison with probably everybody.
It’s magic watching them, run, dunk, play—for me it’s truly beautiful.
Women basketballers aren’t usually as big as men, so are easier to shut down on court, compared with having someone like LeBron James flying over your head.
Some girls are particularly tall and strong, but women’s basketball is a different game from men’s, it’s more about strategy and skill, and tends to be a much more tactical game as a result.
As our coach, Mum was helping me and the other girls in our Albury under 12s team understand this, while at home I’d be playing against the physically stronger men in our family, trying to toughen up on both fronts.