Mike James can’t wait until the NBA trade deadline. It’s his best shot to get out of a place he does not want to be, the Nation’s Capital of Washington, DC. Although, if his $6.5 million expiring contract isn’t traded by February 19th, the Wizards will likely buy him out, releasing him to the sea of basketball free-agents, where there are plenty of fish.
James doesn’t come across as a malcontent. On the contrary, he’s an approachable, nice guy, has a sense of humor, and is always willing to talk. He’s the one Wizard you’ll likely see reading the bible before games and is often prodding youngsters like Nick Young, Dominic McGuire and Andray Blatche to attend pre-game chapel.
But make no mistake. Despite the recent release of a new book, Fight For Your Dreams: Memoirs of an NBA star, and the fact that he rarely shows his displeasure on the outside, Mike James is not a happy camper.
It’s because of his approachable demeanor why James is often seen holding court with one person or another before games, and why I never hesitate to walk over to his locker and shoot the breeze.
James has gently expressed his frustration with the 22 minutes he’s received on the season before, but tonight, he opened up with more poignant words and thoughts to a couple of us who were around before the Wizards were set to play the Miami Heat (including Mike Prada of Bullets Forever).
James said this has been the toughest situation of his career. He came into training camp in shape and says he’s done everything that’s been asked of him, but now feels jilted because he’s appeared in only one game the entire season. It is, however, worth noting that he broke his finger after his one appearance on November 6th and spent several weeks off the court.
As James continues to sit on the inactive list, the nine season NBA veteran said he feels he’s being made a mockery of, and considering the circumstances, he believes he’s the worst person on the Washington Wizards, a 14-27 team.
James said the lone bright spot for him this season was when he played against the Pacers. Not because he actually got to play in an NBA game, but because he got to be on the court with A.J. Price, his basketball protégé with whom he often speaks. James and Price share a hometown in Amityville, NY, and James hopes that someone was able to capture a picture of the two on the floor together back on that early November night.
His psyche may be in a bad place, but James won’t let that affect his basketball confidence. He still believes that he and his career double-figure average (10.5 ppg over 525 games) can help a team. He can’t wait to see an NBA court again and continues to hold onto the hope that he can earn a contract next season, however realistic that may be.
Whatever you think of Mike James as a player can be debated. But I can tell you, he’s definitely a likable guy, i.e., you can’t judge his personality solely on his Supernanny appearance as some, including myself, have done. As Mike Jones once wrote, at this point why not play the guy? The Wizards don’t have much too lose … well, except for more games, but that’s kind of inevitable, isn’t it?