His hometown Bobcats offered more years and more money, but Jamison had always wanted to deal with the expectations that come with wearing purple and gold. Plus, Kobe Bryant is the favorite player of his oldest son. Jamison still sought permission from his boys and his daughters, Alexis, 12, and Kathryn, 7, before making the move.
“I talked to them and I talked to their mom and she was like, ‘I’ll be able to, for a year or so, deal with it. I know this is something that you want. You should try to achieve that,’ ” said Jamison, who got divorced two years ago. “And the kids was like, ‘You’re going to play with Kobe?’ So once I got that blessing, it wasn’t that big of a deal.”
Jamison thought he had finally landed in the best place to capture a ring, after failing to come close in previous stops in Golden State, Dallas, Washington and Cleveland. He joined a team that already had Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash. Then Dwight Howard came aboard, giving the Lakers four potential Hall of Famers.
“I thought this would be the year that everything would be smooth sailing,” said Jamison, whose desires for success with the Wizards were derailed even before Gilbert Arenas brought guns to the locker room. His title window in Cleveland was closed the moment LeBron James chose to reside in South Beach.
Jamison’s time in Los Angeles started out much rockier than he anticipated, with the Lakers firing former coach Mike Brown after five games. The team sputtered initially under Coach Mike D’Antoni, with poor chemistry, injuries to Nash, Howard and Gasol. The Lakers were on the outside looking in on the playoff picture until recently.
Then, in late December, Jamison was confronted with a serious test of his professionalism and character when, without explanation, he was out of the playing rotation and had six healthy scratches.
“Fifteen years, unless I was injured, I did not have a DNP — maybe my rookie year,” Jamison said. “I didn’t know if I was doing something wrong. I had one game where I had like 30-something points and then it was DNP for six or seven straight games. I didn’t understand.”
Jamison eventually slipped up and expressed his displeasure publicly before actually speaking with D’Antoni, but the incident actually helped improve their relationship. And as the Lakers prepare to host the Wizards, the team with which he still has his fondest memories in the NBA, Jamison has emerged as a valued reserve who has helped Los Angeles move into the eighth playoff seed in the Western Conference — and well within range of the sixth seed.