Season in Review: Antawn Jamison

June 12, 2012
by Joe Gabriele Managing Editor

Season Overview: Heavy lifting.

Antawn Jamison’s official job title with the Cavs was starting power forward. But anyone who watched the Wine and Gold this season knows that the 36-year-old veteran’s actual job was doing the heavy lifting.

As tough as these last two seasons have been on the team’s young guns, it’s been even more difficult for Jamison – a player who arrived at the trade deadline during the Cavs’ playoff push in 2010 and has seen the squad win just 40 games in his two full seasons in Cleveland.

And in the face of these difficult circumstances near the end of his career, all Jamison did was play in 65 of 66 games, leading the squad in scoring in 29 of them. Jamison was second on the team in scoring at 17.2 ppg, served as a mentor to rookie Tristan Thompson, passed eight Hall of Famers in the record books and, just for good measure, was a finalist for the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award for outstanding service in the community.

In terms of consummate professionals in today’s NBA, it doesn’t get any better than Antawn Jamison.

The 13-year pro from North Carolina was the team’s iron man and added 6.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game to his solid scoring numbers. In his 65 games played, Jamison failed to score double-digits in only nine contests.

Jamison also led the team in rebounding 15 times, in steals on 13 occasions and 19 times in blocked shots. The 6-9, 235-pounder even led the team in assists for four games this year. Jamison topped the 20-point plateau in 22 games and scored 30-plus points on four occasions.

Against the Pistons on February 21, Jamison notched the 300th double-double of his illustrious career.

And while Jamison continued to put up big numbers and do much of the team’s heavy lifting on the court, Jamison was his usual steady self off of it. He was a stalwart in the community and the locker room, helping groom Tristan Thompson and keeping the squad together through some tough times. He was the media’s go-to guy on most nights, regardless of that game’s results.

Jamison may or may not return to Cleveland next season, but he should always be embraced by Cavalier fans as a true professional who stood tall through some of the franchise’s darkest days.

Highlight: Because the 13-year vet is the model of consistency, it’s tough to pick a single highlight from any season. After all, this is a guy who once scored 51 points in back-to-back games and has notched over 12,000 points in his career. But his top game with the Wine and Gold probably came in a March 7 victory over the Nuggets in Denver in which he led the team with 33 points and nine boards – going 11-for-21 from the floor, including three three-pointers.

Lowlight: Again, when you’ve been around as long as Jamison, a bad game here and there is inevitable. But in a particularly tough stretch – individually and team-wise – the Cavaliers dropped nine straight contests, with Jamison scoring just two points in two of those losses.

Odds and Ends: … Jamison and fellow UNC and NBA star Vince Carter have been intertwined for long time. The duo were college roommates at Chapel Hill, were traded for one another on Draft night in 1998 and still hang out together in Charlotte, where now their daughters – the same age, naturally – are close friends.

By the Numbers: 44 … Antawn Jamison’s position on NBA’s all-time scoring list. The former Tarheel began the season ranked 58th on the list with 18,128 points, but went on to pass Hall of Famers like Julius Erving, Rick Barry, Isiah Thomas, Scottie Pippen and Gail Goodrich. He know stands at 19,246 points – two behind Bob Lanier for 43rd place.

Looking forward: Jamison is one of the big question marks of the offseason. He’s in the twilight of his career and has given indications that he might like to spend his remaining NBA days close to home or with a title contender. The choice of whether or not to return to Cleveland is his choice. Regardless of his decision, he’s been one of the team’s most valuable players in his two-plus year with the Cavs. His leadership would be missed.

Quotable: Antawn Jamison on working with the Cavaliers youngsters …

“You know me – I’m not going down without a fight, but when they need me to help out I will definitely help out. I remember my rookie year. I was competing with some vets. When it was time to play, we went at it. But when it was time to learn, they did everything possible to help me out. It made a difference in my career.”