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Antawn Jamison calls Gilbert Arenas ‘the best teammate I ever had’

(By Ned Dishman / NBAE via Getty)

It’s been suggested recently that it’s a shame this site writes so much about long-gone Wizards players like Gilbert Arenas, especially when that content comes at the expense of currently excellent Wizards players like John Wall, who rediscovered his excellence Tuesday night, flaying the Cavaliers with a season-high 35 points and 10 assists during his and his team’s best game of the season.

Wall and Co. end skid against Cavs

And this is a completely fair complaint. Wall was terrific on Tuesday, and the Wizards dominated a Cavaliers team that has been dominant at home, and there were far too many highlights to remember, including this particularly great one.

You could do an entire item just on Wall’s highlights from Tuesday night. An item filled with copyright infringements, but an item nonetheless.

That being said, did you hear what former Wizards great Antawn Jamison said about former Wizards great Gilbert Arenas?

Sigh. Sorry. But anyhow, this was Jamison — the current CSN analyst — talking to 106.7 The Fan’s Sports Junkies on Wednesday about his former teammate.

“I think people over [emphasize] the end of his career and all the negative things that happened,” Jamison said. “But he made the game fun. He made the game so much easier as a teammate. Nobody could stop him. Nobody could find a way to make it difficult for him. The problem with Gilbert is just the outside distractions took over what he did on the basketball court.

“But as a basketball player, as a teammate, that run that he had goes down. I played with the legends of the game, and a lot of them was towards the end of their careers, but [Arenas was] hands down the best teammate I ever had. His work ethic, people never understood. Gilbert’s and Kobe’s work ethic is pretty much hand in hand. Kobe would get to the arena at 5 o’clock in the morning, before practice, doing a full workout. And you’d get to practice at 9, you’d be like he’s already worked out, I just kind of feel bad. And Gilbert was the same way. It’d be 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning and he’s sitting there working on his game and getting shots up.

“He wanted to be the best. And he was. He was at, one particular time, an MVP candidate. Just for us as a team and for him as a player, it was just too many outside distractions that overshadowed what he did as a player and the type of run that he had. But as a basketball player, you loved playing with him. You knew that night in and night out he was going to compete, and that’s all you wanted to happen.”

Speaking of Gilbert’s MVP candidate, I recently found a large stack of these in my office. The day these arrived at the Wizards team offices was the same day Gerald Wallace fell into Arenas’s knee.

Jamison — who made his studio debut Tuesday night, and will be on the game broadcast team Wednesday — had similar thoughts about those Wizards teams when I chatted with him last week.

Caron Butler on Arenas, guns and the end of that Wizards squad

“When you look at that team that we had, we talk about it all the time: if we took away all of the outside distractions that occurred, you don’t know what could have happened. you don’t know what type of success we could have had,” he told me. “When you sit back, especially as you get older, you realize what a special team you had. There’s only two things throughout my whole life I wish I could go back and try to get a do-over, and that’s my last year in Carolina not winning the Final Four, and the last couple years in D.C..

“At the time I felt like I did everything possible as a captain and as a teammate, but looking back, there’s probably other things I could have done. And if I could get a do-over and just try to figure out how to work things out, because we were so close and had a talented team, and if all the outside distractions were put to bed, oh man, things would have gone differently. My career, Caron’s, Gilbert’s, everybody’s career would have been totally different.

“It’s called life because you live and you learn, but they did a great job putting together a great team, and instead of doing something special for the city — as far as bringing a championship or a very special team — we kind of cut our losses and really didn’t get an opportunity to see what could have happened. And it was all because of actions, and guys not concentrating on basketball and basketball only.”

Anyhow, go watch some John Wall highlights.