Back in the 1998-99 season, Antwan Jamison fell victim to a rookie season during the NBA lockout that extended all the way to January. He expressed how discerning it was to not be equipped to deal with the months of off time the lockout provided and the brash start it proposed.
“It was probably the worst ever. I wasn’t mentally prepared for it,” Jamison said of his rookie year. “It was just one of those things that was a tough process and it definitely affected me throughout that season.”
Jamison was not the only rookie affected by the trials brought forth by the Lockout of 98. Vince Carter, drafted in the year of 1998 as well, was affected statistically by the lockout. His three-point field goal percentage improved by 11% while his point contribution increased by about seven points in his sophomore season. Carter handled himself well in the face of the issues the league presented him, however, there is no doubt that seasoning in the earlier games of that year would have allowed him to be a lot more influential for his squad.
Things have much changed since then however. While middle class players were waiting for Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing, the superstars of the moment, to hop on the bandwagon, the star athletes of today are already making themselves the face of the players’ movement.
“You’ve got the LeBron Jameses and the Dwyane Wades and all those guys who are really taking a stand and being a face of this movement,” Jamison said. “I think back then we really didn’t have the superstars that were together as the superstars are now. I think it’s making a difference.”
When you think back to who really made this season so fruitful for the league, those are the two main men you think about. LeBron’s move to the Miami Heat may have created the most hated athletic mogul in the history of the sport, but it boosted ratings for the NBA in ways they had not seen since Michael Jordan’s glory days.
In early December, NBA on TNT was up over 38% in ratings. Of course this was largely due in part to the widely anticipated home going of LeBron James against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Everyone, including myself, was geared up to watch James take on the men he discarded and he did not disappoint. At least not in that bout.
Even in his plight on live television on home court in Miami, when the Dallas Mavericks knocked the Heat out of Finals in Game 6, the ratings soared as the ending of Miami’s rocky season closed in.
Antwan Jamison and the Cleveland Cavaliers have little to worry about when it comes to the start of the new season. Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson seem like the type of young men to fight through whatever obstacles simply to succeed.
That is what you get when you draft athletes of high character.