Since leaving the Wizards nearly three years ago, Antawn Jamison has played alongside LeBron James and now with the Lakers, Kobe Bryant.
But when he looks back on his NBA career, now in its 15th season, the 36-year-old forward will remember Washington as the place where he grew the most as a player and as a person
“This is pretty much where I got defined as being a leader, being a professional,” Jamison said before Friday night’s game between the Wizards and Lakers at VerizonCenter.
“Coach [Eddie] Jordan gave me the opportunity to do those things and Mr. [Abe] Pollin as well, and Ernie [Grunfeld].
“So I definitely feel extra something when I come to this building. My kids started to be born when I was here. If I could really pinpoint, when my career is over, where I really call home, it would definitely be here.”
Jamison came to the Wizards in 2004 in exchange for Jerry Stackhouse, Christian Laettner and a first-round pick who turned out to be Devin Harris. In his first season with the Wizards Jamison was named to the NBA All-Star team for the first time in his career.
With the trio of Gilbert Arenas, Larry Hughes and Jamison leading the way the 2004-05 Wizards finished second in the Southeast with a 45–37 record and made the playoffs for the first time since 1997. After beating the Chicago Bulls in the first round – their last playoff series victory -- they were swept by the Miami Heat in the second round.
“Everything could have been different,” Jamison recalled. “… That run, if so many little things could have been done differently there’s no telling what the outcome would have been or what the future would have held for this organization.
“But that’s life. There are still things I wish I never did or I wish that would have happened. But those are the things you learn from and make you a better person.
“The guys I played with on that team, we’re still great friends, we still communicate. We’re still brothers.
“That’s the ultimate thing -- to continue to be friends with those guys because we’ve been through so many things together, good and bad. But I think that scenario really defined me in my career.”
Jamison spent parts of six seasons with the Wizards, leading them to the playoffs four times, before getting traded to Cleveland on Feb. 17, 2010 as part of a three-team trade that sent Al Thornton, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, a 2010 first-round pick and the rights to Emir Preldzic to the Wizards.
After parts of three seasons with the Cavs, Jamison signed as a free agent with the Lakers last summer and was in the starting lineup against the Wizards Friday night. On the season Jamison is averaging 7.8 points and 4.7 rebounds while filling in for the injured Pau Gasol.
Jamison said that despite the 9-14 record the Lakers carried into Friday night’s game, they still believe they have a team that can win an NBA title.
“We know what we’re all assembled here for,” he said. “It’s not to win 50 games, or make it to the [playoffs]. It’s to win a championship.
“That word sounds far from what we’re trying to do now, but in the long run it’s about how you finish. For us, 20-some games into the season we should not be playing this way. We just got to continue to plug away and not get derailed from what we’re trying to do.”