NBA at 75: From MJ to LBJ, Jamison saw ‘greatness’ in 2000s

Mar 22, 2022, 11:43 PM | Updated: 11:57 pm
FILE - Cleveland Cavaliers' Antawn Jamison participates (4) in an NBA basketball game against the P...

FILE - Cleveland Cavaliers' Antawn Jamison participates (4) in an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Dec. 7, 2010, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Antawn Jamison played basketball in college at North Carolina, was a first-round pick in the 1998 NBA draft and spent 16 seasons in the league with the Warriors, Mavericks, Wizards, Cavaliers, Lakers and Clippers. He was the 2004 Sixth Man of the Year and a two-time All-Star who scored more than 20,000 points, averaging 18.5 points and 7.5 rebounds over his career. He had 37 points and 10 rebounds as Golden State beat Michael Jordan’s Washington team in 2003, was on the Lakers with Kobe Bryant and the Mavericks with Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash, and took on LeBron James’ Cavaliers in three consecutive postseasons before joining him and Shaquille O’Neal in Cleveland. As part of an Associated Press series on the NBA at 75, Jamison describes what it was like to share a court and a locker room with some of the central figures in the transitional decade of the 2000s.)

When I think about the guys I played against, and I played with, you can’t go wrong with saying the 2000s was probably the best generation of basketball players you could ever come across. When you’re going through it, and you’re on the court with them night in and night out, you don’t get the opportunity to reflect. Now that it’s been a while since I retired, I can.

Michael Jordan was the reason a lot of guys in my generation played the game of basketball. I had an early introduction to Mike at the University of North Carolina. He came a couple of times in the offseason, spent some time with Coach (Dean) Smith, played a little golf and played some pickup games with us. I would pretend I was Scottie Pippen. Shammand Williams would “be” Craig Hodges. It was the best feeling in the world.

Michael is a guy we looked up to: He’s on everybody’s Mount Rushmore; he’s the best player to ever play the game of basketball.

When I played against him in the NBA — sold-out crowd, electrifying — I had a pretty good game, so I was yelling and getting hype. And what really stood out was, Michael being Michael, he told me: “Young fella, just calm down. Hey, Tar Heel, calm down.” I made sure I kept my mouth closed and just played.

I was with Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki and Michael Finley in Dallas. That was where I saw you could have so many talented guys on one team. And we all had one thing in common, which was try to win, and once I experienced that, I was like “OK, this is what it’s all about.”

I was a teammate of Shaquille O’Neal. A teammate of LeBron James. I had a locker next to Kobe Bryant and saw how he prepared, night in and night out. Some people used to give him a bad rap as far as what type of teammate he was, but if you cared about the game of basketball and you wanted to be great, he was the best teammate ever. He just wanted to win and he wanted to do things the right way. And also a guy I called a friend.

In Washington, I played with Gilbert Arenas, who was an up-and-coming young guard who was giving people fits before his knee injury. I went up against Tim Duncan — dealt with him in college for a year; just one of the toughest competitors out there, even though he demonstrated it differently than Kevin Garnett, another great I had to deal with in the NBA. Paul Pierce, too.

You always hear this talk about “Who is the torch going to be passed to?”

In the middle of my career, along came LeBron, this young kid from Akron, Ohio, who in my eyes is the second-greatest player to ever play the game of basketball, behind Mike.

To deal with the pressures of being the savior of Cleveland, being the next guy to “be like Mike,” and the way he has done it — with class, the way you would love anybody to represent the league. We had a young, up-and-coming Wizards team that had some great pieces and we came close to getting past him, but we couldn’t do it. I saw ‘Bron transform and be able to put a city, put a state, put a team on his back and accomplish something they had never accomplished before.

And let’s not forget that skinny kid from Davidson who stays in Charlotte and ended up being my offseason workout buddy the last five, six years of my career. We’ve seen Steph Curry take that next step to be arguably the best shooter to ever lace up a pair of shoes.

When you say “greatness,” I definitely have been blessed to be around it. I’ve definitely been able to see it.

And ‘Bron is still going, Steph is still going.

___

Antawn Jamison is Senior Director of Pro Personnel for the Washington Wizards and a member of the National College Basketball Hall of Fame.

___

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Follow the AP’s coverage of the NBA’s 75th anniversary season: https://apnews.com/hub/nba-at-75

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


              FILE - Los Angeles Lakers forward Antawn Jamison, left, and Los Angeles Clippers forward Caron Butler battle for a loose ball during the first half of their NBA basketball game, Feb. 14, 2013, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)
            
              FILE - Cleveland Cavaliers' Antawn Jamison, right, reacts after teammate LeBron James, left, fouled against the Chicago Bulls during the fourth quarter of Game 3 in the first round of the NBA basketball playoffs on April 22, 2010, in Chicago. The Bulls won 108-106. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)
            
              FILE - Washington Wizards forward Antawn Jamison (4) fights for a rebound with Memphis Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay (22) in the first half of a NBA basketball game Nov. 24, 2007, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Lance Murphey, File)
            
              FILE- Antawn Jamison, second from right, holds his new Washington Wizards jersey as he poses with Wizards coach Eddie Jordan, left, president Susan O'Malley, second left, and president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld, right, during a news conference, June 28, 2004, in Washington. Jamison was acquired by the Wizards from the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for Jerry Stackhouse, Christian Laettner and the Mavericks' fifth pick in last week's draft, Wisconsin point guard Devin Harris. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)
            
              FILE - Dallas Mavericks' Antawn Jamison, right, reaches to grab a rebound in front of Golden State Warriors' Troy Murphy in the fourth quarter of the Warriors' 108-107 win in Oakland, Calif., April 11, 2004. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
            
              FILE - Cleveland Cavaliers' Antawn Jamison participates (4) in an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Dec. 7, 2010, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

AP

File - Security forces stand guard during a demonstration in front of the Iraqi central bank as cur...
Associated Press

Targeting Iran, US tightens Iraq’s dollar flow, causing pain

BAGHDAD (AP) — For months, the United States has restricted Iraq’s access to its own dollars, trying to stamp out what Iraqi officials describe as rampant money laundering that benefits Iran and Syria. Iraq is now feeling the crunch, with a drop in the value of its currency and public anger blowing back against the […]
1 day ago
FILE - A logo of Sony is seen at the headquarters of Sony Corp. on May 10, 2022, in Tokyo. Sony app...
Associated Press

Sony CFO to lead entertainment-electronic giant as president

TOKYO (AP) — Sony appointed a veteran executive as its president Thursday to lead the Japanese electronics and entertainment conglomerate through times of change. Hiroki Totoki, Sony’s chief financial officer, will become the president and COO, Sony Corp. said in a statement. Kenichiro Yoshida remains chairman and chief executive, signaling continuity at the Tokyo-based maker […]
1 day ago
People wearing protective masks stand near an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 ind...
Associated Press

Asian stocks rise after Fed sees inflation improving

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets gained Thursday after the Federal Reserve said the U.S. economy is moving toward lower inflation but more interest rate hikes are planned. Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney advanced. Oil prices rose. Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index closed 1% higher after the Fed raised its key lending rate […]
1 day ago
Traders on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange watch Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's new...
Associated Press

Here’s what the Fed interest rate hike means for you

NEW YORK (AP) — The Federal Reserve raised its key rate by a quarter point Wednesday, bringing it to the highest level in 15 years as part of an ongoing effort to ease inflation by making borrowing more expensive. The rate increase will likely make it even costlier to borrow for homes, autos and other […]
1 day ago
FILE - A house burns on Platina Road at the Zogg Fire near Ono, Calif., on Sept. 27, 2020. A judge ...
Associated Press

PG&E to face manslaughter trial over deadly California fire

REDDING, Calif. (AP) — Pacific Gas & Electric will face trial for manslaughter over its role in a 2020 wildfire in Northern California that killed four people, a judge ruled Wednesday. The judge in Shasta County ruled after a preliminary hearing that there was enough evidence for the nation’s largest utility to face trial on […]
1 day ago
FILE - The logo of Honda Motor Company attached to a vehicle is seen at a showroom in Tokyo on May ...
Associated Press

Japan’s Honda outlines hydrogen power plans to go green

TOKYO (AP) — Honda is expanding the use of hydrogen to include trucks and construction equipment, electricity for buildings and even outer space, not just cars on the roads. Honda Motor Co. plans a new fuel cell vehicle for sale next year, packed with a fuel cell stack developed with General Motors Co. of the […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
NBA at 75: From MJ to LBJ, Jamison saw ‘greatness’ in 2000s