Former NBA All-Star Antawn Jamison was playing a round recently at The Golf Club at Ballantyne with longtime friend and college teammate Vince Carter.
“I don’t understand how he does it,” Jamison said of Carter, 40, who is preparing for his 20th NBA season.
“He can barely bend over to read his putts. To see him still be Vince Carter, and enjoying it. ...He still brings something to the game.”
Jamison and Carter played together at North Carolina for Hall of Fame coach Dean Smith. They were both selected top-5 in the 1998 NBA draft. They were traded for each other in a pre-arranged deal between the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors.
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Their paths finally diverged in 2014 when Jamison, who grew up in Charlotte and played at Providence High, chose to retire after 16 NBA seasons. Jamison, who was a 6-foot-9 forward, says he gave up playing – six franchises employed him at one time or another – to pursue something else.
Jamison has five children: three girls and two boys ranging in age from 17 to 6 months. He says it was overdue for him to join the car-pool line, picking up the school-age kids at Charlotte Christian.
“They sacrificed so much when I played. They need me to be home,” said Jamison, who nearly signed with the then-Bobcats in the summer of 2012 to be in Charlotte in the winter. He signed with the Lakers instead.
Jamison has found a way to still keep one foot in the NBA: He commutes to Los Angeles about every other week during the season to do studio work on Lakers telecasts. There he works with former Lakers star James Worthy, who grew up in Gastonia and starred at North Carolina.
Jamison, 41, said he doesn’t miss the competition or the compensation. He does miss the camaraderie.
“There is something about being in a locker room after a practice or a hard loss, and putting your heads together to try to figure something out. I miss that part,” said Jamison, speaking before Thursday’s Hooptee charity golf tournament at Ballantyne.
“The other parts? I was grateful to experience it all,” but he was done.
Done after logging more than 34,000 NBA minutes and scoring 20,000-plus points. Done after playing with superstars Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. Done with whatever Carter must do to play for the Sacramento Kings next season.
For now, Jamison says, he’s content attending his kids’ basketball and volleyball games. But he still has aspirations.
He wants to be in an NBA front office. He believes he’d be a good talent evaluator. He has contacted the league office, putting out feelers for an opportunity in that field in the future.
“Everyone who knows me knows that’s what I want to do,” Jamison said.
At each new spot – from Golden State to Dallas to Washington to Cleveland to Los Angeles (both Lakers and Clippers) – Jamison picked the brains of that franchise’s key decision-makers. It was more than shop talk; for Jamison, it was an internship.
What so intrigues him about roster building?
“Everything,” Jamison replied. “I’ve been around (Mavericks owner) Mark Cuban, (Wizards general manager) Ernie Grunfeld, (Clippers coach) Doc Rivers and (former Lakers GM) Mitch Kupchak.
“That has given me the expertise.”
Jamison then reflected on Carter still playing into his 40s:
“I told him, ‘Vince, I get it for the first 15 to 20 games. But how do you do it for 60 or 70?’ ” He said, ‘I love it too much. I just can’t give it up.’ ’’
Jamison gave up the NBA.
But maybe not for long.