Antawn Jamison: The Real Winner of NBA Trade Week

Vance MunsonCorrespondent IFebruary 20, 2010

PHOENIX - DECEMBER 19:  Antawn Jamison #4 of the Washington Wizards warms up before the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on December 19, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Wizards 121-95. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Cavs fans had to take a little extra Pepto-Bismol with their coffee these past few days before the NBA trade deadline,  which should serve as good practice for this summer when LeBron is wined and dined in every US city imaginable.  But when it was all said and done, the Cavs swung a very favorable deal for themselves, especially if Zydrunas Ilgauskas is bought out of his contract and returns home in 30 days like we all hope.

The Rockets, Bulls, Knicks, Kings, Clippers, Bucks, Mavericks, and Trail Blazers were all very active as well, but in the end, Antawn Jamison was the real winner of this week’s trading bonanza.

This is because nobody deserved to be traded more.

He is a class-act and a graceful leader. A good looking, nice guy who has been stuck on one of the worst, most turmoil ridden teams in the league these past few years.

The Wizard’s locker room was a prison filled with gun toting maniacs, for which Antawn was always miscast. You could see in his eyes the sorrow, having to stand by and support eccentric and villainous teammates—yet he was always a good soldier.

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On Jan. 8 before the Wizards played the Orlando Magic, he stood before his fans and humbly apologized for the Gilbert Arenas firearm fiasco (though he didn’t do anything), promised to hold his team to higher standard and make the fans proud of them again. It was a truly heroic scene, and with the Wizards wallowing in last place in the Atlantic Division and now rebuilding, Jamison clearly deserved better.

When DC management finally decided to break the Wizards up and start over, Jamison was pardoned for the crime he didn’t commit. And in an instant, his life and career did a complete 180. He now plays for the best team in the league, and is part of one of the best organizations in all of sports.

Over the years the Cavs have created a true family environment, were everyone goes out to dinner after the game and genuinely cares for one another. They stand by their team mates when the going gets tough (Delonte West) and they have made “team chemistry” one of their greatest assets.

The Cavs family is headed by the best teammate in the league, LeBron James. Even Shaq would agree. Being second fiddle is fun when you have James joking, dancing, feeding you the ball unselfishly, and above all, winning games for you.

Obviously, I am a Cavs fan and am happy Jamison was acquired for next to nothing, but I am also genuinely happy for him.  I imagine his first trip to the Cavs locker room went something like this…

Antawn shows up to practice just as he always has over the past five and a half years, wearing a bullet proof vest and carrying a wad of bills. He walks over to LeBron like an elementary school kid handing over his lunch money to a bully and says, “Sorry I’m late but I brought this week’s gambling money, please don’t slap me.”  

LeBron laughs and says, “Don’t worry man, Brendan Haywood isn’t here and we don’t want your money.”  

Jamison just stands there expecting to be punched in the stomach until LeBron slowly motions Anderson Varejo over to give Jamison one of his patented bear hugs. After which Antawn puts his money away, smiles shyly and says, “So...what’s the safest locker to take sir?”  

LeBron, sensing where this is heading, puts his arm around Antawn and says, “Listen, you are in a better place now. None of these lockers have dangerous things in them and you don’t have to wear that vest to work anymore. In fact, we usually get to practice early on Thursdays so we can all bake cakes together. Come on, watching Shaq eat a cake as fast as he can make anyone feel better.”  

Jamison breathes a sigh of relief and says, “That sounds nice, I can’t believe you guys are having a cake party. What’s next?”  LeBron looks him straight in the eye at this point and says, “We’re going to win basketball games my good man, get used to it.”  

Antawn spends the next hour of pre-game practicing high fives with JJ Hickson (he has to tell JJ to stop jumping so high) and watching Sponge Bob with Delonte West (he has to tell Delonte to stop laughing so loud). Then because he is still not officially an active Cavs player yet, he enjoys the game in the stands with his agent and Cavs officials, including team owner Dan Gilbert.  

Gilbert, the architect of this model franchise and one of the richest owners in the NBA, is extremely intent on making Antawn feel comfortable. They sip on grape soda and cheer with the crowd as LeBron hands out highlight worthy alley-oops to his team mates like candy. Then, Jamison, as if he is some kind of fantasy world, looks up from his popcorn and asks, “Is it like this here all the time?”  

Gilbert turns quickly and says, “What do you mean? Is the flaming scoreboard too hot for you? Is all this MVP chanting too loud?" Jamison grins and clarifies, “No this is all great, what I meant was, is this place always sold out?"  

Gilbert leans back, chuckles and says, “Yes my friend, the games always sell out, every night you see something you have never seen before, and these fans will truly love you.  Now...would you like me to buy you a roller coaster, or a maybe an ice-cream cone?”  

Jamison is a fun loving guy and definitely loves roller coasters, but he politely declines in favor of the ice cream.  

Later that night, after Antawn has enjoyed one of the most pleasant evenings of his life (and the best ice cream cone ever), he retires to his hotel room for some well deserved rest. He drifts to sleep with a satisfied look on his face, but after a few minutes is jolted awake by the nightmarish face of DeShawn Stevenson taunting him.  

His eyes dart around the room in fear, until suddenly the phone rings. Antawn answers it nervously, but is relieved when he hears Cavs coach Mike Brown on the other end.   

“Hey buddy, I could sense you were scared. Just wanted to call and see if you were all right,” Brown says calmly.  

Jamison exhales happily and says, “I was just having a little nightmare, but I feel safe now.”  

Yes Antawn, you’re safe now. The awful Wizards chapter of your life is over. You’re home.


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