Seattle Storm coach Brian Agler dropped a bit of a bombshell during the team's visit to the White House in honor of their 2010 WNBA Championship.
As tweeted by Seattle Times reporter Jayda Evans, Agler announced on the White House lawn today that star center Lauren Jackson will be having surgery tomorrow meaning that she is expected to be out 8-12 weeks.
“This is a really, really tough decision,” said Jackson in a Storm press release, “but after talking with my doctors and my family, we felt that immediate surgery is the best course of action. With something painful like this hip injury, I want to be especially proactive. I plan to stay in Seattle to be here with my team and try my best to be back on the court as soon as possible. My goal is to be at full strength by the end of the season.”
While it's obviously a huge blow to lose a player of Jackson's caliber, it's also worth emphasizing that the Storm are 4-2 with only a sub-par contribution from Jackson thus far this season. The Storm have been without Jackson for most of the last two wins and was averaging career-lows across the board with 9.2 points per game on 30 percent shooting and 4.8 rebounds per game.
Not that she wouldn't have gotten better or that her very presence doesn't help the Storm especially on defense, but in terms of the team's performance this season it will be less of a loss than it has been in past seasons when she has averaged 19.5 points and 7.9 rebounds per game prior to this year.
Nevertheless, the past also provides reason for hope as the Storm still aim to make the playoffs in a competitive Western Conference without Jackson. Kevin Pelton of StormBasketball.com reminds us that the Storm have actually played extremely well without Jackson over the past four years - their 15-9 record turns out to be a higher win percentage than any team in the league over that time period.
Last, if there is a silver lining to this whole ordeal, it's that Storm point guard Sue Bird tends to shine in those stretches without Jackson to the point of looking like a MVP candidate. As described on SB Nation's Swish Appeal this morning, Bird should be squarely in the MVP debate this year and that alone could make watching her individual performance exciting on its own - were she to win MVP this year, she'd be the first point guard ever to do so.
Losing a player of Jackson's caliber is definitely bad news. But the Storm's season is far from over.
“Lauren informed me of her decision to have surgery yesterday,” Agler said in the release, “and I offered her our full support. We will miss her a great deal, but I have a lot of confidence in our team and know they will rise to the challenge. Every member of our team now has a greater opportunity to impact our season.”
And watching how they respond to this latest instance of adversity could be even more compelling in some ways.
For more on the Storm and the WNBA, visit SB Nation's women's basketball site Swish Appeal.