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"The city of Washington was built on a stagnant swamp some 200 years ago," Lisa Simpson once wisely observed, "and very little has changed. It stank then, and it stinks now. Only today, it is the fetid stench of corruption that hangs in the air."
Li'l Lisa would be proud to see Antawn Jamison in the District of Columbia. The man has gone through more turmoil than what caused former Dallas teammate Antoine Walker to fume, lose his focus, his minutes, and his touch. Jamison has stood tall and proud regardless of his circumstances, and he was a beacon of optimism, professionalism, and class in a city that has not known such qualities for decades.
Jamison for Mayor? Forget that. Jamison for President.
He said the cliche things ("The most important thing is to win"), some flattering things ("I can't stress how excited I am to be part of this organization"), and some jaw-dropping things ("This is definitely the best situation so far in my career") at a news conference yesterday as he was officially introduced.
The best situation in his career? He is reuniting with former Warrior teammates Larry Hughes and Gilbert Arenas. Those three did not have the most success in the West. Is Kwame Brown going to be the difference maker? Come on.
There are three possibilities for what kind of politician Jamison is:
(1) A charmer, a la Bill Clinton, who can make anyone think he is trustworthy, honest, and sincere, when he is really not
(2) A disappointment, a la George Bush Sr., whose kind, gentle spirit will be crushed by constant defeat
(3) A true leader, a la Ronald Reagan, whose optimism and belief in the strength of his free fellow Americans really can make great things happen
There is nothing in Jamison's career to suggest he has any of the negative qualities of a Bill Clinton. He is charming, but not in a manipulative way. Jamison is charismatic but sincere and at heart a good person.
He's also not a disappointment. He has played however his coaches have wanted him to play everywhere he has been, last year coming off the bench to earn Sixth Man of the Year honors.
Indeed, process of elimination doesn't do justice to Jamison and his Reaganesque optimism, smile, and rugged willingness to clean up the mess of the previous administration. In the end, only the regular season and playoff record will determine his legacy, but Jamison has already implanted the Wizards with his character. And that, not the slightly altered roster or coach, might make all the difference.
And it's about time. His character will lift the whole team, and with a little luck, the whole city, out of the stagnant swamp it is slowly sinking into every day.
You can watch or listen to the press conference on the official home page of the Washington Wizards at nba.com/wizards.
Greg Sandoval ofThe Washington Post writes: Antawn Jamison declared yesterday that winning is his primary goal and that the team comes before anything, which had to be of great comfort to the Washington Wizards.. To many, that kind of self-sacrifice may not sound like much, but Donnie Nelson, the Mavericks' president of basketball operations, said what Jamison did was "unprecedented" during a period in which some stars talk about self-sacrifice but begin wrecking furniture and demanding a trade when their playing time is cut. The Wizards hope Jamison's team-first mentality rubs off on their younger players.
The Associated Presswrites onWTOP News:Antawn Jamison is moving from a team that won 52 games last season to one that hasn't made the playoffs since 1997 - and he couldn't be happier about it."I can't stress how excited I am to be part of this organization," Jamison said at a news conference Monday. He was traded to the Washington Wizards by the Dallas Mavericks last Thursday. "This has been six years in the making."
Tim Doherty ofThe Jackson Clarion-Ledger writes: Henderson declared for the NBA draft as a junior, going in the same year — and same round — as Harrington. They both went in the second round, with Henderson going to the Washington Wizards as the 55th pick. He never played. "(General manager) Wes Unseld and me, we just didn't get along," Henderson said. "I got hurt, but he put a bad rap on me, and I couldn't get another shot. But it turned out all right." Henderson played for teams in Australia, Israel, Poland and Italy before a procession of knee surgeries sapped the spring in his legs. A car accident in 2000 that led to fusion surgery on a broken wrist effectively ended his playing days... Henderson declared for the NBA draft as a junior, going in the same year — and same round — as Harrington. They both went in the second round, with Henderson going to the Washington Wizards as the 55th pick. He never played."(General manager) Wes Unseld and me, we just didn't get along," Henderson said. "I got hurt, but he put a bad rap on me, and I couldn't get another shot. But it turned out all right." Henderson played for teams in Australia, Israel, Poland and Italy before a procession of knee surgeries sapped the spring in his legs. A car accident in 2000 that led to fusion surgery on a broken wrist effectively ended his playing days.
Milton Kent ofThe Baltimore Sunwrites: When the word filtered out last week that he had been traded to the Washington Wizards, Antawn Jamison just happened to be standing next to one of his new teammates, center Brendan Haywood, in a Chapel Hill, N.C., sports bar. And since the two are part of the North Carolina basketball fraternity, playing together for one year, Jamison is expecting a "Carolina discount" when he approaches Haywood to surrender No. 33. That's the number Jamison has worn during his career, from North Carolina to Golden State and Dallas in the NBA... "There's been a smile on my face," since the trade was struck, Jamison said.
Adam Himmelsbach ofThe Free Lance-Star writes: Haywood, the Washington Wizards' starting center, started telling tales of his recent jersey sales. He told Jamison how he switched from No. 3 to No. 0 two years ago. Juan Dixon had been drafted by the Wizards, and told Haywood he'd dig it if he could wear his old college digit. Haywood told Jamison how he switched from No. 0 to No. 33 when point guard Gilbert Arenas joined the Wizards last season and wanted his jersey to don the doughnut. On Wednesday Haywood and Jamison joked about what'd happen if Jamison--who wore the 33 with the Dallas Mavericks--became a Wizard.About 10 minutes later Jamison spotted something on the television that almost made him spit out his soda. The small forward was being traded to the Wizards in return for Jerry Stackhouse, Christian Laettner and Washington's first-round draft pick.