Lauren Jackson during Opals training in Canberra on Thursday. Photo: Katherine Griffiths
Australian Opals star Lauren Jackson says her contract dispute with the Canberra Capitals would not have raised an eyebrow if it happened to a man.
Jackson terminated negotiations with the Capitals last week for her to play the new WNBL season after they missed a deadline to make changes to her seven-figure deal.
‘‘I think if it had been a guy, it wouldn’t have been such a massive, big deal, but I am a woman [and] some people don’t see it as important as it would be in professional male sport,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s unfortunate it didn’t work out, but it is a business. At the end of the day, I’m as professional, as the guys are, and if there’s no contract there, there’s no contract there.’’
Jackson was in the middle of a one-off $1 million, three-season contract with the Capitals where she was required to play in 2012-13, 2014-15 and 2015-16.
But after missing all of last season with back and hamstring injuries, the Capitals wanted Jackson to play the new season in exchange for the final year.
Speaking at an Opals camp at the AIS in preparations for next week’s Oceania world championship qualifying series against New Zealand, the four-time Olympian claimed the Capitals had the amended contract for 10 days and did not respond to numerous emails and phone calls before the deadline.
‘‘They were given time, it wasn’t like if you don’t do it by 5pm today [then it’s off the table],’’ she said.
‘‘It got to the point after two months of negotiating and trying to work out how we were going to move the season forward ... there was no urgency, there was nothing.
‘‘We were not getting feedback, calls were not being taken, emails were not being responded to. I needed a plan for my future and I didn’t know whether they were going to pull the pin or not.’’
Jackson said she had received ‘‘a few emails pretty much straight up’’ from overseas clubs keen to recruit her, but at this stage she was not allowed to reveal where she will be playing.
The 32-year-old doesn’t hold any grudges with the Capitals and intends to honour the final two years of her contract and return for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.
‘‘I spoke to [coach Carrie Graf] and some other people in the club, and they were as disappointed as I am, so there’s no hard feelings,’’ she said.
‘‘I absolutely want to be here in Canberra and I still feel like I’ve got some great basketball years ahead of me, but it gives me some opportunities to make some money elsewhere for one more year. Canberra is my home in Australia for basketball.’’
Basketball ACT chief executive Tony Jackson did not return calls from Fairfax Media on Thursday.
Lauren Jackson is expected to play a prominent role for the Opals in the two-legged series against the Tall Ferns in Auckland on August 14 and in Canberra on August 18.
However, her former Capitals teammate Abby Bishop will miss the series after aggravating an ankle injury on the first day of the training camp on Wednesday.