HoopsHype.com Interviews

Antawn Jamison: "I'm not going to let my offense dictate my defense"
by AJ Hayes / October 31, 2002

You have to be excited about how the team looked on opening night. What’s going to be the secret to turning this team around?

Antawn Jamison: What will dictate this season is how we perform defensively. If we can keep the energy up on that end and keep the guys believing in each other it will work. We still got 81 to play and a lot of teams ahead that we haven’t beat a lot. And I think a lot of guys are taking those matchups very personally. We haven’t beat Seattle in awhile and we haven’t won at Utah – since I don’t remember. So we have a little chip on our shoulder and we want to get some victories It’s kind of us against the world mentality. People still don’t believe in us and people still think this is going to be a laughing stock team. But the most important thing is we believe in ourselves and we continue to play defensively the way we play tonight will be successful season.

Did the Warriors make a statement to their fans by beating the Spurs on opening night?

AJ: Yes, I believe we did. We have the best fans in the world, but it’s difficult to cheer for a team that only wins 20-25 games. They are just itching for us to play the way we are capable of playing. We want to be able to use the home court to our advantage and become a great home team. Our fans deserve it. It really makes a difference to have a loud house. They make us want to work a lot harder and get more wins like that and win time after time after time. For us to beat a team like San Antonio who was coming off a win at the Lakers. Once they get a real glimpse of hope its going to be like the old days around here. You hear stories about how wonderful it was and that’s something these young guys want to experience and we know were not too far off.

What did you think about the hiring of Coach Musselman?

AJ: After losing all four years, why not make a change? I think this coach is a guy who can help us out but he can only do so much. We should have no kind of individual goals whatsoever because that kind of took away from us being a good team.

What does Coach Musselman offer this team?

AJ: Coach M has done a terrific job, the guy is probably one of the best motivators I’ve been around in my life. You look at him and think what’s he know about the game? But he knows how to motivate and he knows how to communicate to each and every individual. He really makes a difference. He’s always positive and doesn’t get negative and when we get in a rut because he always finds a way to get us out of it.

Do you feel like this is more of a team?

AJ: I think it has to be all about the team and that’s the only way we’re going to be successful. Stop thinking as an individual and think as a team because it’s a broken record! People ask you what you want to accomplish this year? I just want to win and the only reason we’re going to win is if we have a great attitude. This is a job, this is a profession. This is not, let’s play for a couple of hours and go home. We need to treat it as a job.
It looks like you are shooting the ball with so much confidence.

AJ: I’ve been around for five years now and in the NBA on certain nights the basket is going to look so big and on other nights it’s going to seem like there’s a lid on the goal. But I think the biggest difference is I’m not going to let my offense dictate my defense and how I perform and play on that end.

Is this franchise ready to have some fun?

AJ: Oh yes. I’ve been here five years now and we know that record. Coach has done a tremendous job of getting ourselves to believe in each other. The critics might think we’re the same old Warriors. But we look at that as a way to sneak in and attack a few teams and let them know that were going to play hard every night.

Would you say one of your personal goals is to take a more vocal presence on the court?

AJ: I think that's starting to happen. As an individual I’ve had some very good seasons and some not so great seasons. The main thing for me is to be mentally being able to handle 82 games and every situation. Because all teams have tough times. I know winning doesn’t mean I have to go out and score 30 points every time. It can mean scoring 8 or 9 points and 12-13 boards and 5-6 assists. It took me awhile to realize that offensive greatness doesn’t mean you’re going to win games.

We know there’s still a lot of hard work ahead. But if we continue to play the way we’re capable of we’re going to set the tone early and we can really bring some excitement back to the Bay.

AJ Hayes is a San Francisco-based sports writer and a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com

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