Jamison won't count Kobe out
Antawn Jamison may have moved down the hallway at Staples Center to give himself a better chance to contend for a championship when he signed with the Los Angeles Clippers this week, but he's not ready to write his former team off just yet.
"I would never count Kobe Bryant out of anything," Jamison said Friday in a radio interview on ESPN 710 in Los Angeles. "I've played with some special players. Gilbert Arenas when he was [in Washington D.C], at the top of his game, LeBron James, Shaquille O'Neal [in Cleveland]. I've played with a lot but never played with an individual player who had the type of mindset, the drive that he has. If [Bryant] says he's going to win a sixth ring, believe me, he's going to do everything possible to get that ring.
"Of course, on the outside looking in you could say, well, that might not happen this year or whatever with him coming off the injury and the Lakers trying to get things together. But I mean, that guy, he's going to do everything possible to get that sixth ring."
Jamison, though, is still trying to win his first. And right now, he felt the Clippers gave him the best opportunity to do so.
"You have probably two of the best players in the NBA [in Chris Paul and Blake Griffin] and you have a collection of guys where money is not an issue. Nobody is playing for contracts. The only thing we are here for is to win a championship," Jamison said. "I think before Doc [Rivers] got here you might have thought they were thinking, 'OK, we might be one year or two years away, but with Doc being the coach, that mindset is not even in existence. It's about winning now. We believe we can win this year."
Jamison said that when they met earlier this summer, Rivers promised him an opportunity to play, but not a specific amount of playing time. And with one of the deepest benches in the NBA, there might not be a whole lot of playing time for the 15-year veteran who is approaching 20,000 career points.
"He hasn't sugarcoated anything," Jamison said. "He said, 'I want you to come in and help out these guys, let them know what you see out there on the court. I'm not going to promise you a certain amount of minutes a game but you will get an opportunity to play.'
"He was forthcoming with any kind of questions I had. He always answered them and that's what you want out of your coach. For him to express interest in myself and bring me on board really says a lot. Whatever role they have me in or want me to be, I'm definitely going with open arms."
That's not exactly the relationship Jamison had with Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni last season, when he was given no explanation for why he completely fell out of the rotation for a stretch in late December.
"Mike was pretty much put in a difficult situation," Jamison said. "There was no training camp where he could get a feel for guys. There was a breakdown of communication when we first got there. And throughout the season it was kind of up and down.
"I don't dislike Mike. I obviously respect him as a coach. In my eyes, one of the best offensive-minded coaches in the league. I just think he was put in a tough situation ... but toward the end of the season you saw him kind of open up, and we started to have a relationship, and I kind of understood where he was coming from."
What Jamison never figured out though, was why the relationship between Bryant and Howard never developed on the court.
"It was difficult," he said. "I really believed before we got started that those two could co-exist. But it just didn't work out that way. Both guys are unbelievable basketball players, the best we have in the game right now. But for whatever reason we just couldn't get that relationship as far as them communicating and them trusting each other the way you needed them to trust each other in order for us to win a championship. It just didn't happen that way."
All that is in the past now. Howard moved on to Houston. Bryant is rehabilitating his Achilles. Jamsion is preparing himself for a new challenge with the Clippers.
"I was excited last year but this by far has been the most excitement I've had," Jamison said. "To be able to be coached by Doc Rivers and their coaching staff, and to play against these guys who had me on ESPN for the last couple seasons, throwing lobs and all this other stuff. On the outside looking in, you see these guys having fun. You see them interactive with each other, they're having fun, they trust each other and that's what basketballs all about. So for me to be a part of that, and for the fans to see that, I think they should be excited because our mindset is not just to get better this year , it's to come out of the West and try to win a championship."