Vince Carter and Antawn Jamison reminisce on seeing Sugar Ray that one time in college (Getty Images)
Los Angeles Clippers forward Antawn Jamison is having a bit of a rough year. In his first season with the Clippers and second consecutive season playing for a team in Los Angeles, the one-time top-flight scorer has tailed off at age 37. He’s making fewer than 29 percent of his shots from the field, his always-iffy defense stands out more than ever, and he’s only played above 20 minutes once this season – in a 20-point Clipper blowout win over Orlando earlier this month.
Needing some levity and some grounding at the same time, Jamison decided to not only visit the campus of Providence High School in Charlotte, North Carolina, but he invited each of the members of his alma mater’s basketball teams to see his Clippers take on the hometown Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday. Though Jamison sat out by coach’s decision for the fifth straight game in a surprising Clipper loss, the two-time All-Star did get to impart a little wisdom and give the kids a good time out.
Jamison visited the Providence High campus Tuesday and had both the varsity and junior varsity players sitting behind the Clippers’ bench during his pregame shooting workout. After that he hung out with them for a few minutes, delivering a message about never giving up.
“The main message is: One, never give up on your dream, because there were so many people who said I would never become what I became, so many people who tried to put doubts into what I wanted to do, and you never understand that it can really affect you,” Jamison said. “And for me to not listen to those people and really stay focused and really believe in my dream and believe in what I want to accomplish, I can accomplish. That’s the main story, or the main point I try to get the kids.
He also had about 25 friends and family members in attendance. But it was a great deal less than when he first came in the league. Back then he was getting requests from a number of different directions, sometimes needing tickets for as many as 75 or 100 people.
Jamison is a few years away from his heyday, the novelty of “local boy does good” has probably worn off for friends and family of a player that was drafted into the NBA in 1998, and it’s true that nobody likes watching Charlotte Bobcat games, but it is a little sad to see that Jamison’s ticket requests have fallen off so much.
Especially because this will probably be the last time he plays in Charlotte. Or, more specifically, the last time Jamison visits the city as an active member of an NBA team. Because Antawn has fallen off so far – his average Player Efficiency Rating from 2012-13 has been cut in half this season, on top of the shooting and defensive woes we mentioned above – it’s very likely that Antawn Jamison calls it quits this summer.
Nothing is certain, and there is the chance that a team will see this season as a fluke (after all, through all the storm and stress with last year’s Los Angeles Lakers, he did average nearly 16 points and eight rebounds last year), but even at a minimum price that may be a hard sell. You got the feeling that it was a double-kicker, on top of the loss, for Clippers coach Doc Rivers – as he must have wanted to give Jamison at least token minutes on Wednesday, but couldn’t afford to in what turned into a four-point loss.
You get the feeling that Jamison doesn’t mind as much. The guy has been a pro’s pro ever since he switched hats with Vince Carter after being traded just minutes after the Toronto Raptors drafted him in 1998. Now with his sixth NBA team, the guy has racked up averages of 18.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in his NBA career despite having to sometimes work as a third or fourth wheel even in his prime with Dallas and Washington. If he does retire this summer, considering his work with the North Carolina Tar Heels, he may rank as a fringe Hall of Fame candidate.
Until that decision, it was nice to see him give back to his high school, some 20 years on.
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