Antawn Jamison is 34 years old. He isn’t exceptionally athletic (and never has been, really), exceptionally strong, or exceptionally tall. His game could age fairly well as long as his employer is willing to put up with his defensive limitations, and Jamison could certainly find NBA work as a scorer, rebounder, and calming locker room presence for another contract or two. Of course, Jamison’s future is still conditional, even if his production and skills are ever reliable; after Jamison’s current contract expires in the summer of 2012, the then 36-year-old could choose to end his career then and there.
Jamison is apparently considering the possibility. From Chris Tomasson of NBA FanHouse:
The Cleveland forward already has started to think about retirement. He said before Saturday night’s 127-99 loss to Denver at the Pepsi Center that next season, the last on his contract, could be the final one of his NBA career. “Definitely,” Jamison, 34, said in an interview with FanHouse about that being a possibility. “I’ve done a lot, man. This is my 13th year and next year will be my 14th year. A lot of people don’t get the opportunity to say that they’ve played for that many years. And to know that I’ve left everything I throw on the court has been a blessing for me.”
…”I know the window of opportunity is closing in … for my career,” said Jamison, averaging 16.5 points this season for the woeful Cavaliers. “Physically, I can play the game for another five or six years. Mentally, I got another one or two years in me. I can live with that. I’ve enjoyed my career and done a lot of things. The only thing I got to do is to win a championship. But I got one more year left on my contract. If nothing happens by then, I can be happy with it being a career unless an opportunity comes up to play for one year after that.
It’s a shame to think that Jamison’s career could be coming to a close. As a player, he found great success both as a featured scorer and a virtual afterthought, using offensive rebounds to generate additional possessions and scoring opportunities. As a person, Jamison has been a consummate professional and endured more team dismay than any player ever should. This year’s Cavaliers are only the latest example; Jamison also played for the early-decade Warriors and the post-fallout Wizards, two teams with their own unique brands of misery. If you happen to believe in the championship as a method of career validation, Jamison certainly deserves a ring of his own, if only for spending so many of his years toiling away on bad teams. Still, Jamison’s career is commendable on its own merits. The man has performed at a high level throughout, regardless of circumstance.
Another year and a half (or less, if the NBA is locked out for part or all of next season) of Jamison may not be enough, but it’s all we’re likely to get. The call of the game could always entice him to stay a little while longer, but Jamison seems convinced that his career is nearing its natural end.