Jamison Sprains Shoulder In Win

By Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 15, 2009

CLEVELAND, Oct. 14 -- Antawn Jamison didn't even bother reaching for his right shoulder. He knew he was in trouble. Once he slapped down on Cleveland Cavaliers center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Jamison leaned his side, lowered his head and scooted directly toward the Washington Wizards bench, angrily tossing aside his mouthpiece. Head athletic trainer Eric Waters quickly escorted the two-time all-star to the locker room and Jamison was done for the evening.

The Wizards defeated the rival Cavaliers, 109-104, in an exhibition game on Wednesday at Quicken Loans Arena, but the mood was dampened with concerns over Jamison, who left the building with his arm secured by a sling. Jamison will have an MRI exam to determine the severity of the injury, but the team is listing it as a sprained right shoulder. After the game, Jamison was optimistic that he would return soon.

"I'm always a quick healer," Jamison said. "I hope it's something that won't last but a couple of days. I just knew when it happened it was something serious."

The loss of Jamison for a lengthy period of time would greatly sour the enthusiasm surrounding the team, which always seems to be in an annual, yet futile, attempt to stay healthy. Jamison's injury places in doubt his availability for the season opener against Dallas on Oct. 27.

"Antawn is pretty tough," Wizards Coach Flip Saunders said. "For him to be out an extended period is going to take a lot. Right now, it's all speculation, we'll have to wait and see. Luckily, we still have two weeks and hopefully he'll bounce back for us."

The Wizards just suffered through the worst 82-game regular season in franchise history with injuries derailing point guard Gilbert Arenas, center Brendan Haywood and shooting guard DeShawn Stevenson, among others. And, as Jamison scrambled off the court with 4 minutes 34 seconds left in the first quarter, Wizards newcomer Randy Foye said he could hear his teammates -- who have watched each of the past three seasons hampered by deflating injuries -- shout, "Not again."

Caron Butler was so worried that he ran back to the locker room to check on Jamison after the first timeout. "I had to check on my guy. I'm real overprotective of my dudes right now," said Butler, who also ran to the locker room to check on Haywood when he sprained his right ankle last Friday against Dallas. Jamison "told me he was fine and he'd be okay. I felt cool after that. We need everybody healthy, you know -- the last man on the bench to our core guys."

The Wizards were able to hold off the LeBron James-less Cavaliers, with Mike Miller (24 points), Foye (21 points) and Andray Blatche (16 points, eight rebounds) picking up for the injured Jamison. But their hopes of becoming a championship contender, which Jamison proclaimed they were this offseason, are greatly diminished without the team captain. Jamison has been relatively durable most of his career, missing more than 14 games in a season only one time in his first 11 seasons. He has played 79 or more games seven times, including 81 last season, when he averaged 22.2 points and 8.9 rebounds and finished fourth in minutes played with 3,096.

Jamison had been the Wizards' leading scorer and rebounder through the first four games of the preseason, averaging 18.8 points and 8.5 rebounds. He had just two points on Wednesday when he attempted to stop the 7-foot-3 Ilgauskas from making a layup. But as Jamison chopped down, Ilgauskas's momentum was still carrying him up and Jamison felt the brunt of the impact. His arm fell limp.

"I tried to foul him and my shoulder bent in an awkward position," Jamison said. "It got numb and I lost sensation in my finger. I knew something was wrong. It scared me a little bit. it scared me because I didn't have any feeling. Right now, it's a little soreness."

President Ernie Grunfeld, players and coaches have used "when we're healthy" as the rallying cry to raise expectations of what could be, when the reality is that the Wizards rarely have been able to keep their players on the floor together. "That was a scary sight," Blatche said. "I don't want to see any of my players injured. This is our year, it's our time."

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