When the Los Angeles Lakers arrived in Cleveland, it was familiar ground to Antawn Jamison. The veteran forward returned to Cleveland for the first time since leaving as a free agent this past summer, but it wasn’t Quicken Loans Arena that gave him the chills — it was the bitter December Cleveland weather that smacked him in the face when he got off of the team plane.
Admittedly spoiled by the L.A. sun, it didn’t take long for the memories to begin to funnel through Jamison’s head as he traveled down Euclid Avenue to the team hotel. While many of his memories from his time in Clevealnd are ones he would gladly forget if given the chance, the two-and-a-half years he spent with the Cavaliers are ones that left him with no regrets.
“It will hit me later on when there are familiar faces with the guys on the other end, but this was time well spent here,” said Jamison. “I had a great time even though it was tough in terms of wins and losses, but just the people who were here with me that helped me along the way.”
The City of Angels may have provided Jamison with larger menu of things to do on weekends; the glitz and glam which encompass every home game is enough to make any professional athelete feel more appreciated. But behind the Hollywood curtain has been chaos little different from that which has followed the veteran to each of the five stops on his NBA career. A head coach has been fired, a star player has been in and out of trade rumors, an integral free agent addition has yet to log minutes and there has not been as much winning as was hoped when Mitch Kupchak compiled his version of a an NBA Voltron.
In typical Antawn fashion, he has had an up-and-down season that has come with huge nights (a video game-like 33 points and 12 rebounds against the Denver Nuggets) and requisite cold streaks (he’s presently in a 5-for-15 slump). But unlike years past, Jamison is no longer relied upon to shoulder the scoring load thanks to playing along side Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace.
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Now several time zones away, Jamison still manages to keep tabs on the young players to whom he served as a mentor just a few months ago. He and Smardo Samuels have shared phone calls. Alonzo Gee sends texts his way merely to keep in touch. Jamison texted Anderson Varejao to congratulate him on his recent engagement. Cavaliers’ coach Jamahl Mosley and Jamison talk roughly twice per month. And Tristan Thompson makes sure to text Jamison every time he sees him being dunked on by an opponent within a game or teammate in practice.
“I keep in contact with these guys,” said Jamison. “They were my brothers for two-and-a-half years. I want these guys to be successful here — they have a great young nucleus and a great coaching staff who’s going to do everything they’re possible. And these fans deserve it. I watch all of the games I can and I want them to be successful and turn things around.”
Photo: Scott Sargent/WFNY