Sports

From MJ to LBJ, Jamison saw “greatness” in the 2000’s

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

When I think of the guys I played with and with whom I played, you can’t go wrong saying that the 2000’s were probably the best generation of basketball players you’ve ever met. When you go through it, and you’re on track with them night after night, you don’t get a chance to reflect. Now that I’ve been retiring for a while, I can.

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Michael Jordan was the reason many boys of my generation played basketball. I had a first introduction to Mike at the University of North Carolina. He came a couple of times in the off-season, spent some time with coach (Dean) Smith, played some golf, and played some pick-up games with us. I would pretend it was Scottie Pippen. Shammand Williams would be “” Craig Hodges. It was the best feeling in the world.

Michael is a guy we admire: he’s on everyone’s Mount Rushmore; he is the best player who has ever played basketball.

When I played against him in the NBA, exhausted, electrifying crowd, I had a pretty good game, so I was screaming and advertising myself. And what really stood out was that Michael, being Michael, said to me, “Boy, calm down. Hey, Tar Heel, calm down.” I made sure to keep my mouth shut and just play.

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

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I was a teammate of Shaquille O’Neal. A colleague of LeBron James. I had a locker next to Kobe Bryant and watched him get ready, night after night. Some people used to give him a bad reputation for what kind of teammate he was, but if you cared about playing basketball and wanted to be great, he was the best teammate of all time. I just wanted to win and I wanted to do things the right way. And also a boy I called a friend.

In Washington, I played with Gilbert Arenas, who was a promising young guard who was attacking people before his knee injury. I faced Tim Duncan: I dealt with him in college for a year; just one of the toughest competitors out there, though he proved it differently to Kevin Garnett, another great one I had to deal with in the NBA. Paul Pierce too.

You always hear this talk about “Who’s going to pass the torch?”

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In the middle of my career came LeBron, this kid from Akron, Ohio, who in my eyes is the second best player to play basketball, behind Mike.

Face the pressures of being the savior of Cleveland, being the next guy in “being like Mike” and the way he did it: classy, ​​how would you like anyone to represent the league. We had a promising new Wizards team that had some great pieces and we were on the verge of overcoming it, but we couldn’t make it. I saw ‘Bron transform and be able to put a city, put a state, put a team behind him and achieve something they had never achieved before.

And let’s not forget that skinny Davidson kid who stays in Charlotte and ended up being my low season training partner for the last five or six years of my career. We saw Steph Curry take the next step to be arguably the best shooter for up to a pair of shoes.

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When you say “greatness,” I definitely had the blessing of being around. I’m sure I could see it.

And “Bron keeps going, Steph keeps going.”

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Antawn Jamison is a senior professional director of the Washington Wizards and a member of the National College Basketball Hall of Fame.

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From MJ to LBJ, Jamison saw “greatness” in the 2000’s

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