Tonight, the Wizards host the Cavaliers, and while this year's game may not be as special as games in years past, now that LeBron isn't around to root against, there's still a compelling reason to check out tonight's game.
For the first time since his he was traded last February, former captain Antawn Jamison returns to the Verizon Center tonight. When he was dealt, many saw the trade as Jamison's Get Out of Jail Free Card. Instead of being stuck on a team that was beginning their rebuild, Jamison was going to be a key cog on the championship contending Cavaliers. As it turned out, his acquisition wasn't enough to get the Cavaliers over the top, though you can't really fault Jamison for not getting them over the top. (And even if you could, why would you want to when LeBron is such an easy target?)
Since that fateful series against the Celtics, things have been all downhill for Jamison. LeBron left, slamming the window shut on any title hopes Jamison had with Cleveland, and with almost 2 years and $25 million left on his contract, it will be next to impossible for him to drum up any interest from contenders. Worse yet, it appears that Father Time is finally starting to catch up with the 34 year old. He lost his starting spot to J.J. Hickson this season and has sat out the last two games with knee soreness.
Jamison's less than triumphant return tonight will serve as a painful reminder of a bygone era in Wizards history. After the jump, we'll take a look back at the player who provided the steadying force for some good Wizards teams over the years.
First, let's take a look at one of his finest shots. The Wizards were on a nine game slide without Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler coming into their meeting with the Clippers, but he made sure the Wizards streak didn't reach ten with this timely tip.
Timely tips and crafty scoop shots were Jamison's hallmarks, but he could provide highlight dunks and blocks from time to time as well, just ask the Cavaliers and Raptors.
But more than anything else, we'll remember how he led the Wizards, even when times were bad. When Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler were lost for the year with injuries in the 2006-07 season, Jamison did his best to lift the Wizards on his back. He put together arguably his best individual performance as a Wizard that year, scoring 48 points and keeping the Wizards within striking distance of the Magic in a game they had no business keeping close.
But of course, his finest moment in adversity came in the days after the gun fiasco when he addressed a crowd unsure of what to expect with their star player suspended indefinitely. He made sure they knew that the team understood their role as models and that everything was going to be o.k., just like any leader does in a time of duress.
As Antawn Jamison returns to Washington in a period of duress, he should receive a warm reception from a crowd who has received much from Antawn Jamison during his time as a Wizard.