By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Be advised. Antawn Jamison is not the superstar you think he is. He isn't even as young as you remember. Be warned he's not our savior, not our Kobe, not our Steve Nash big Summer signing. Still you best believe he Antawn is the one piece that helps this Lakers puzzle fit. Believe this former All-Star is all-team. Believe this player with plenty of years left in reserve is the best bench player this Lakers organization has had-bar fellow former 'Sixth Man Of The Year' Lamar Odom-in years...no decades.
A smooth like Jaamal Wilkes Small Forward with Power Forward tweening size. A twine thwacker from distance. Able to hit from deep with the inside knowledge that has regularly made him one rebound shade under a 20 and 10 threat (a big man who's recorded grand career highs of 51 and 23 a couple of times). The man who's birth certificate was meant to read 'Antwan' is distinct in his own right and no mistake signing. Antawn in a keeper. A forward as classic as his Nike trainer middle-namesake, Cortez is a killer. This former warrior for Golden State has been a Californian king before as an All-Star, but since then his great play for good teams has left him the quietest, consummate professional of stars. Just ask Dallas or Washington. Now in the bright lights of the Hollywood La, La Laker land this silent killers action-thriller game will be exposed to this movie towns highlight reels.
Beyond the throwback forward style, the smooth as Irish whiskey Jamison brings substance to the Lakers new balanced measure. He's played with new signing Nash before in Dallas and the Maverick catalyst of this revamped Laker team that has avoided the wrecking ball swing of rebuilding has really started something. Jamison is another big name that could help draw more familiar faces to STAPLES and we're not just talking about the celebrity laden crowds. Sure the best recruiter in the league right now wears a championship ring with LeBron James engraved in it, but as Miami's leading man channels his inner Danny Ocean-putting a 'big five' team together with Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis-Jamison and Nash are drawing that star power and pull too.
If that doesn't sound like your particular brand of championship champagne, help yourself to as many other teams as you like and have a safe road trip. No hard feelings. Otherwise, come with the Lakers on their highly lucrative championship champagne campaign. Because Jamison's put it on the line with LeBron before too in Cleveland (where his Cavs time also saw him coached by Lakers head Mike Brown) surely this may count for something in terms of advantage in this chess move offseason side game of the NBA. Ant' has played alongside LeBron in gamed and against him in practice. You can count on 'tawn knowing 'Bron's every move. This may not be a straight checkmate, but a knight could take a king in this game. Jamison without James carried Cleveland like a true star Cavalier too. Will Jamison be the one with the knowledge of the South Beach talents able to take the championship shine from Miami and back to California?
Sure the Lakers miss Lamar Odom like they miss Derek Fisher. They where and always will be family. Still just like Nash's arrival has helped the Fisher hurt Jamison's one will ease the Odom pain. Antawn these days may not be better but in terms of experience he's an upgrade from L.O. Antawn Jamison could be the best, most influential former star, role playing bench player since fellow number four Ron Harper. This fourth selection in the '98 draft really supports the big five of Kobe, Pau, Nash, Bynum and Metta World Peace perfectly. The Lakers could really go forth with their new sixth man for this year. Just how far will be determined over the next 82 and hopefully more.