Lauren Jackson 'blown away' by Dominant 20 ranking

Lauren Jackson never thought she was as good as people told her she was.

Remarkable as that may seem -- after all, Jackson at her peak was the world's best female basketballer and comfortably remains Australia's greatest ever player -- it's also a small but pivotal glimpse into the mindset of what made Jackson an icon.

The drive. The commitment. The unwavering focus and sheer determination to be the best she could be, despite being betrayed by a body that eventually wore down from sheer overwork.

"I had an amazing career. I did suffer through a lot of injuries and I think that was the one thing that held me back," Jackson told ESPN. "I think I could have done so many other great things had I been injury-free. I loved every minute of it, I just don't think I realised how good I was.

"People would tell me, but I was always in the moment and trying to get better, I always strived to be the best."

No, not for Jackson her preternatural shooting ability that was before her time. Not the countless MVP awards, not the WNBA and WNBL titles, not even the multiple Olympics and world championship medals she earned at the vanguard of the Australian Opals national team.

So when ESPN The Magazine ranked Jackson 13th in The Dominant 20, its definitive list of the most formidable, awe-inspiring and downright dominant athletes of the past two decades, the three-time WNBA MVP was downright incredulous to the point of embarrassment.

"Just completely blown away. You look at the names on that list and the fact I was even mentioned is something that I would never in my wildest dreams thought would happen," Jackson says. "And just so honoured. It was such a massive surprise. When I saw it, I was like 'this is not right!' it was a bit of disbelief and shock. I think that anyone who sees their own name on the list would be completely humbled by it."

You want dominance? Check these numbers, just from her storied WNBA career with the Seattle Storm, where, along with her MVPs, she won two titles in 2004 and 2010 and her #15 jersey hangs from the rafters:

-Seven-time All-WNBA First Team (2003-2007, 2009-2010)
-Seven-time WNBA All-Star (2001-2003, 2005-2007, 2009)
-WNBA Finals MVP (2010)
-WNBA Defensive Player of the Year Award (2007)
-WNBA rebounding leader (2007)
-Three-time scoring leader (2003-2004, 2007)
-All-WNBA Second Team (2008)
-Two-time All-Defensive First Team (2007, 2009)
-Three-time All-Defensive Second Team (2005, 2008, 2010)

Throw in spots on every one of the WNBA's all-time teams and numerous titles and MVPs in various leagues around the world and there can be little doubt of Jackson's credentials to make the list.

And lest you need any more evidence of Jackson's influence on the game itself, look at today's modern game and note the plethora of previously back-to-the-basket players now stepping out past the three-point line and firing away.

Jackson was one of the pioneers in the modern game to eschew the notion that centers and power forwards were only lumbering behemoths who did their best work close to the basket.

Rather, Jackson presented an impossible combination for opposing defences to combat - often with little success.

Guard her with a less mobile big and Jackson would step out and nail triples with dead-eyed elan. Switch and put a smaller player on her and Jackson would simply move inside and overpower her hapless defender with athleticism, deft footwork and a soft touch at the rim.

It was a nightmare matchup and one that is replicated time and again in today's game, not that far removed from Jackson's own career.

Given her elite shooting range and defensive prowess, it's any wonder Jackson looks at basketball now and has a tinge of frustration she can't be out there.

"A lot of the younger players have come through and been compared to me, some of those girls can step out and play like a guard, they're brilliant players and I really couldn't do what they do," Jackson says. "But I could shoot. And shoot a pretty good percentage. If I could, I'd still be out there playing, if my body had held up. There's not one day that goes by where I don't think, 'imagine if I was still playing, just imagine!'

"I think one of the saddest things of my career, it wasn't the mental that went first, it was my body. And that was the hardest thing to swallow because in my brain, all I wanted to do was get back out on the court and my body said no.

"There were times I felt pretty low and pretty defeated but looking back on it all I had some pretty amazing moments and I wouldn't change it. I definitely don't have any regrets."