Antawn Jamison: "We have a chip on our shoulders"
You were in Brazil this summer, right?
AJ: Yes, in Sao Paulo. I was five days over there and then I flew to Dallas to be at the adidas Basketball Experience.
How was that experience with all those those young teams playing there? Did you see any interesting prospects?
AJ: Yeah, definitely. There's a Brazilian point guard called Diego who has a great knowledge of the game. There were also a couple of European guys, some from the U.S. that will be pros in the near future... Overall, there was a lot of talent and I really enjoyed being part of that.
What are your feelings about the U.S. National Team an the Olympics?
AJ: In their debut against China, I could only see the first half but I could see a very talented group. I think there's a group of guys that have been together for some time, for a couple of years, so the chemistry is there and it's going to help us out. But other teams, like Greece, Spain, Argentina... They have played together for 5-10 years, so it's going to be a challenge.
You won the bronze medal at the last World Championship. After two years, what is you main feeling when you think about it?
AJ: You know, as time goes by, I feel that I really enjoyed being part of that team – although we didn't get the gold medal. We understood that FIBA game style is a lot different from the NBA.
If there was a chance for you to play at these Olympic Games for another country, like Chris Kaman is doing for Germany, JR Holden and Becky Hammon for Russia, would you do it?
AJ: Nah, I wouldn't do it. I'm from the U.S., that's my country. I'm American.
Do you respect Kaman's decision?
AJ: You know, it's his own decision. He's a grown man and I think he's a great player. Well, at the end it's good for basketball, because more talented players are at the Olympics.
Let's talk about the Wizards. Did you get a lot of offers from other teams before you re-signed with the team?
AJ: I think that from the beginning everyone pretty much knew that I wanted to go back.
But did your agent Arn Tellem tell you about any offers?
AJ: There was interest from other teams, yes, but there was no offer on the table.
Wizards owner Abe Pollin is always saying that you are such a great player and such a good person as well. How has this special bond between you and Pollin developed through all these years in Washington?
AJ: He said, "You're my guy, I trust you" from Day One. We do have a great relationship and I felt welcomed and appreciated from Day One.
Did you talk with Gilbert Arenas before he made the decision to re-sign with the Wizards?
AJ: You know, when I re-signed I talked with Gilbert and he congratulated me. But there was no need to say something like "C'mon man, you've got stay"... We have been playing together for a long time and we feel we are in the right direction.
I've heard Arenas is building a one million dollar pool at his house. Are you going to pay him a visit and try the pool while you talk about dethroning the Celtics?
AJ: I heard something too [laughs]. Nah, I think we'll have pool parties once we get some big wins in DC. You know, it's Gilbert, he does his thing and he is in the right direction with the Wizards.
Apart from your and Arenas re-signing, the team is having a quiet offseason: Roger Mason is out and rookie Javale McGee is in... It's clear that the big addition would be you guys being healthy at last.
AJ: That's it, everyone within the team knew that we didn't need to do trades. If Caron [Butler] is healthy, if Gilbert is healthy... We've been playing together for so long, we respect each other and we can get like a 50-win type of season.
Although injuries have hurt the Wizards specially in the playoffs, this is going to be the fourth season of Arenas, Jamison and Butler playing together in Washington. Do you feel any pressure on the Big Three about going deep into the playoffs?
AJ: Not pressure, but a challenge. We know that if we win, we get the credit but if we lose, if we don't go deep into the playoffs, the blame is on us. No problem with that. It's part of the business, we'll share the responsability... We don't make excuses, but it's clear that we've had some injuries during the last couple of playoffs and we are frustrated. We have a chip on our shoulders and it's time for us to go deep. The Lakers had lost in the first round in the 2006-07 season and last year they went straight to the Finals. You have to seize the moment during a long season with 82 games and then perform in the playoffs. If we stay healthy, we'll be OK.
Raul Barrigon is the managing editor of HoopsHype.com
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