Published Tue 21 Nov 2023


Lauren Jackson AO OLY, Australia’s greatest ever women’s Basketball player, was presented with the prestigious The Waratah award at the 2023 rebel NSW Champions of Sport Ceremony at the International Convention and Exhibition Centre tonight.

First presented in 2017, The Waratah acknowledges a career of extraordinary success and a commitment to sport that has extended beyond competition. Recipients are considered a role model, a highly respected member of the NSW sporting community, and a recognised ambassador for sport by the wider public.

Rugby League great Laurie Daley was the inaugural recipient in 2017. Netball legend Liz Ellis and champion cricketer Glenn McGrath were recipients of The Waratah in 2018 and 2019, and Netball’s remarkable Marcia Ella-Duncan received the honour in 2023.

A four-time Olympian and Australia’s Opening Ceremony flag bearer at the 2012 London Olympic Games, Lauren enjoyed a stellar international playing career between 1997-2016 before making a triumphant international comeback in 2022 to help the Australian Opals capture the bronze medal when they defeated Canada in the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup Third Place Game.

Lauren debuted for the Opals when she was just 16 and was Opals captain from 2008 to 2013. She won three consecutive Olympic silver medals between 2000 and 2008 and bronze in 2012. At World Championships, she won three bronze medals and, in 2006, a gold medal, the same year she collected gold at the Commonwealth Games.

Lauren’s legendary status extended beyond Australia with incredible performances in the WNBA, Europe, and Asia.

Lauren played 12 seasons and 338 games in the WNBA, winning the league MVP in her third season when she led the competition for scoring. She is the only player to have their jersey retired by the Seattle Storm.

In her role as Head of Women at Basketball Australia, Lauren supports women and girls to play, coach, referee and administer the game, including through the She Hoops program which strives to empower women in Basketball through visible pathways, mentoring, connection, insights, participation, and education.

Sports NSW Chief Executive, Stuart Hodge, said Lauren was a leader and an outstanding role model for the NSW sports family.

“Lauren is Australia’s and NSW’s most decorated basketball player. Her overall contribution to Basketball and her role model for women in sport is immeasurable.  We honour and salute her with The Waratah,” said Mr Hodge.

The Waratah is only awarded in years when it is considered there is an outstanding candidate.

Greg Campbell, PRISM Strategic Communications