Jamison Asks Fans to Support Wizards
"How are you guys doing? On behalf of my teammates, this organization, this coaching staff, we know it's been a trying week. One thing my teammates and I take very seriously is being a positive role model. It's something that we don't take lightly. Now there's been a picture of us that's been shown of us taking this event very lightly. This is a very serious situation. It's something we take to heart. We never meant to make light of the situation, and gonna do everything in our power, as long as I'm your captain and as long as these guys right here are my teammates, to make this one of the most respectable organizations in the league.''
(The crowd applauded.)
"In order for that to happen, we need you guys to continue to support us. This thing right here is very embarrassing for my teammates and the coaching staff, but we're going to do everything positive to make this one of the toughest places to play in, to make this an exciting place, but most importantly, a place where you can bring your kids, your families, your buddy, to come and have a good time. So enjoy the game tonight. Thanks a lot.''
Jamison was greeted with more applause as he finished. The speech was posted on the Wizards' website around the start of the second half.
"It just came from the heart,'' Jamison said after the Wizards' 104-97 win, in which he led all scorers with 28 points. "After shootaround, I just felt, and the organization felt, that we needed to address the fans to let them know it was not acceptable. We all saw the picture ... they caught us laughing, but we know it's a very serious situation. We take pride in being role models to kids, and we want them to be proud of coming to the game and have fun again.
"For us, it was about putting it all behind us. Those guys (Arenas and Javaris Crittenton) are our friends. We hope the punishment won't be too severe; we're reaching out to them every day, but we have to deal with what we have in this locker room, play basketball and find a way to turn this thing around and have fun again. We haven't had fun in a while.''
The other players did not know beforehand that Jamison would speak. "It doesn't surprise me,'' said guard DeShawn Stevenson. "Antawn always carries himself like a veteran, very respectful, and it just shows a part of his character. He's our leader.''
The other notable departure from the usual pre-game routine was the video that plays during introductions -- Arenas was no longer in it. Nor was his image on the video message board that runs around the rim of the concourse, where he once was one of the players flashed on it along with the Wizards' marketing slogan, "Character, Commitment, Connection.'' That same slogan had also adorned the banner of Arenas that had been taken down from outside the arena Thursday.