I just posted about one of the newest Tar Heels in the NBA, Kendall Marshall, in my last post. I will now be looking at one of the most seasoned veterans coming out of the North Carolina Basketball program, Antawn Jamison, who has been part of the National Basketball Association for the last 14 seasons. For the small forward this is most likely going to be his last contract in the pro’s and it seems that he might be making it one close to home, as Jamison met with Charlotte Bobcats’ executives and as the article in the Observer said ” the intent of the meeting, selling Jamison on the idea of finishing his career as a veteran presence here, resonated with its target”. The former Tar Heel is from the area and his family as lived there year round as he has traveled the country playing basketball at the professional level.
It must be tough, having watched Jamison play from his years in college under Dean Smith, into the NBA, where he was with teams such as the Warriors, the Mavericks, the Wizards, the Cavaliers, he always did one thing… played as hard as he could in order to make his team win. Now, coming to the end of the journey, one rich with many things, but absent of a ring, you have to wonder if the 36 year old can deal with playing close to home rather than to find a team that might have a shot at winning it all. I have to believe that it has to be the toughest question that the man who has his number retired in the Dean Dome, who has been an All Star twice in the NBA and has received many other accolades, has ever had to answer during his basketball career.
“We broke the ice,’’ Jamison said of his two-hour meeting over dinner Thursday night. “To say there’s interest on both sides is definite.”
“Now it’s up to me. Do I want to come home to be with my kids? Or should I pursue the best opportunity to win a ring?’’
After what is just under 1,000 games played in the regular season, 858 of them as a starter, Jamison (6’9″/235 lbs) is looking at the end of the road and having to decide if mentoring a team that needs plenty of it while being able to live at home and being close to his four kids is going to be worth more to him than going after “it” one more time. For someone who has done so much can it be possible to now put aside the last goal in order to help a team that is based where he was raised and where he will be retire once his career is over? Can the man who played at the highest levels now take the back seat for others, while also being able to be closer to his family, or will the instinct of chasing the title be too much to overcome? Whether he goes to Charlotte or to a contender the role that Jamison will have is definitely not going to be as one of the top “go to guys”, but doing it on a team that can win it all might be a lot easier than to do it on a team that could not win ten games last season. I have to believe that the answer to all this only one person knows, and that person might not be ready to say it yet, either cause he does not want to, or cause he himself is not sure of it.
The one thing that is for sure is that Jamison would help the Bobcats immensly. A presence like his, along with their first round pick Michael Kidd-Gildchrist, will help build the right mentality for a squad that was the worst of the worst last season, ending with a pathetic record of 7 and 59. One thing is for sure, the Bobcats need people in the locker room to bring in a winning and hard working mentality, Antawn Jamison could definitely be one of those gusy to do this. Going to a contender does not mean being able to win it all, as we saw last season, an injury at the wrong time and any team is done in the playoffs. But to Charlotte he would be an asset, not just on the court, but in the locker room. He could tell all what it means to be at the top, having been an All-Star, or to be in the playoffs, having reached them six times, with three different teams. He is a proven player, and that alone is something that most people will listen to. He is a winner, on and off the court, and that is something the Bobcats need.
In the end we will soon learn what the veteran forward, who from the days of North Carolina Basketball all the way to now as always been a class act, will do. Until then, as I do with all present and former Tar Heels, let me wish Antawn Jamison all the best as he needs into should be the final contract of his pro career. And of course for any updates on Jamison, or any other Tar Heel, come back often to isportsweb.
For those that might not remember Antawn Jamison, here is the SportsCenter highlights of #1 Duke vs #2 North Carolina in 1998…