Last night, the wider NSW sport community gathered in a glittering ceremony to celebrate the outstanding achievements and contributions across the state at the annual NSW Champions of Sport Awards. Among the recipients, the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup clinched the coveted title of ‘Event of the Year,’ while basketball legend Lauren Jackson AO OLY was honoured with the prestigious Waratah Award.
The FIBA Women’s Asia Cup, held earlier this year, brought together eight of Asia’s most talented women’s basketball teams, technical officials, referees, support staff and a huge volunteer workforce to Sydney for the large-scale event that broke numerous records.
The recognition as “Event of the Year” further solidifies basketball as a premier sporting spectacle while elevating women’s basketball and fostering community engagement.
Lauren Jackson, an iconic figure in Australian basketball, received the Waratah Award, a distinction reserved for individuals whose careers exemplify extraordinary success and unwavering commitment to the sport.
First presented in 2017, the Waratah Award acknowledges not only on-court excellence but also a deep commitment to fostering the growth of basketball beyond the competitive arena.
A four-time Olympian and Australia’s Opening Ceremony flag bearer at the 2012 London Olympic Games, Jackson 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.
Jackson 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.
Her legendary status extends beyond Australia with incredible performances in the WNBA, Europe, and Asia.
She 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, she 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.
Her commitment to the sport extends beyond her playing days, making her a recognised ambassador for basketball, inspiring future generations of athletes, and is a well-deserving recipient of the Waratah Award.
Basketball NSW was also nominated for ‘Organisation of the Year’ and the Sydney Kings were nominated for ‘Team of the Year’, however, both were unsuccessful.
CLICK HERE to view all award winners.