Antawn Jamison Q&A

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Watching the USA Olympic basketball team fall behind in its quarterfinal match with Argentina, Antawn Jamison couldn't hide his frustration. He wanted to be there, in Athens, helping them battle for the gold medal. "Everybody's dream is to represent their country," he said from the hotel room in a pre-event media gathering Friday for the World's Greatest Alumni Game.

If you were asked to play, you'd go …

Every guy who plays college basketball or plays in the NBA I think you have a numerous amount of goals you want to accomplish – and representing your country and winning a gold medal is one of those goals. Why wouldn't you want to play in the Olympics, represent your country and play against some of the world's best players? Once you've done it once and twice and then turn it down now, I can understand that, but I think it'd be a great opportunity to experience that.

How often have you been back to Chapel Hill of late?

This is my third trip this summer. First two times I came down I played with the guys and visited Coach [Dean] Smith, Roy [Williams], and those guys. We're starting to get that feeling back. It's no secret that we got away from that in the past, but I think guys put a lot of things aside and realized that we're cheating these guys out of an opportunity.

When I was here we had guys like [Jerry] Stackhouse, Michael [Jordan], James Worthy … that really made a difference playing with those guys and to have them give us the input of how it was and how we should react to certain situations. That meant a lot and I think a lot of us realized the players now deserve the same opportunities that we had. I think we weren't doing it the last couple years, but you start to see it happening again.

These guys are young. When I was here, I had a junior and senior to lead me through the year. I think these guys haven't had that guy who has been through it and we've really put it upon ourselves to really help those guys and let them know what it takes to represent Carolina. You're starting to see a lot of former Tar Heels come back and try to help those guys a lot.

In playing with the current team, did anyone in particular stand out?

All of these guys stand out. I like Jackie … David's more athletic than I thought he was … big boy May can really do a lot down there and has a lot of weight on him so he's hard to get around … Jawad, Felton … this is a very talented team. Once you look at this team, you can sit there and say – I went to two Final Fours in three years, and this team is just as talented as we were, but they don't have the leadership that our teams had with Shammond [Williams], Makhtar [Ndiaye], Serge [Zwikker] Dante [Calabria] – and these guys haven't had that experience. That's the only thing that separates this team and the teams when I was here.

Talk about what the Carolina family means to you …

It's definitely difficult to explain because there's just a lot of jealousy around the league. Every time something about Carolina comes up, guys really envy it a lot. For me to have the opportunity to experience it … I wouldn't be who I am today if it wasn't for the Carolina experience -- if it wasn't for the leadership from Coach Smith, Coach [Bill] Guthridge, Coach [Phil] Ford, the tutors making sure I did my job in the classroom as well as on the basketball court. Just the way we did everything definitely made my life easier. And it prepared me for the next level. It's all about family. … This is home.


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