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Murray Wenzel

Lauren Jackson's shock basketball comeback

An exemption to continue using medicinal cannabis will be key after Lauren Jackson opened the door to an incredible World Cup basketball comeback as a 41-year-old later this year.

Arguably the best female player in history, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame member, three-time WNBA MVP and 2006 world champion with the Opals was forced into retirement with chronic knee pain in 2016.

But the 40-year-old has found relief since trialling medicinal cannabis and is a major advocate of the treatment that has coaxed her out of retirement to play for her hometown team Albury-Wodonga Bandits in the second-tier NBL1 from April 2.

Set to play out of the stadium named after her, Jackson said she had applied for a therapeutic use exemption but would have to stop if denied.

"That's been critical in my ability to recover and come back, just the way I've been training has helped me alot," she said.

"I'm really thankful I got on that trial and I'll explore my options to get that exemption.

"The last few games, there was so much pain and that ended my career right there, but I don't feel that anymore."

How she handles the grind of competitive basketball again will determine Jackson's next step, with the NBL1's season running into August and the ideal build-up to September's FIBA World Cup in Sydney.

The news of her return comes with Liz Cambage's Opals career seemingly over, the WNBA centre declaring she had "zero" interest in the program after her late Olympics withdrawal that followed an incident in a warm-up game.

Jackson has the backing of Opals coach Sandy Brondello and would-be teammates and is keeping her options open despite attempting to talk down the prospect on Wednesday.

"I haven't played for eight years ... I might be terrible; there are so many unknowns at this point and I'm 40 years old," she said.

"The stars have really aligned for me at the moment ... to be pain free, get out and move again is what I'm hoping for.

"I was really drained, basketball had taken a huge toll on me emotionally so it's going to be a new experience for me and I'm so excited."

Jackson's Opals injection could be just the tonic for the World Cup hosts, who struggled without Cambage in a quarter-final Tokyo Games exit.

They've since dropped a place to No.3 in the world and finished third at the Asia Cup late last year.

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