- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Following the Washington Wizards' loss Saturday to the Miami Heat, team captain Antawn Jamison quickly found a way to help ease the sting of yet another loss - cheering on his North Carolina Tar Heels in their Final Four matchup with the Villanova Wildcats.

But that was easier said than done. Guard Nick Young and rookie center JaVale McGee jokingly stood in front of the twin big-screen televisions in the Wizards' locker room and teased changing the channel before Jamison jumped up from his locker and threatened to inflict bodily harm on his clowning teammates. A few minutes later the signal went out on both TVs. Jamison tried hurriedly to fix the problem, then retreated to the trainers' room to watch the conclusion of the first half.

Watching his college team in the NCAA title game Monday night wasn't expected to be nearly as complicated, however, because Jamison got tickets to the game at Ford Field. He left Verizon Center following Monday's practice and headed for the airport to take a private jet to Detroit.

Jamison said former North Carolina teammate and current New Jersey Nets guard Vince Carter and a couple of other former UNC teammates also would be making the trip to Detroit to watch the game. (Fellow former UNC player and current Wizards teammate Brendan Haywood did not make the trip.) Afterward, Jamison planned to fly back to the District and arrive by 2:30 a.m. Tuesday - only 12 1/2 hours before the Wizards are scheduled to fly to Cleveland for Wednesday's game against the Cavaliers.

A busy schedule but well worth the trouble, according to Jamison.

“[The final] is something I never got the opportunity to experience,” said Jamison, who led North Carolina to back-to-back Final Four appearances in 1997 and 1998 but never reached the title game. Jamison also took home national player of the year honors after averaging 22.2 points and 10.5 rebounds in 1998.

“I haven't really been to a Final Four since then,” Jamison said. “I haven't really been to a Carolina game since then, so to get the opportunity to go back and see some familiar faces over a very important game, it's pretty exciting.”

Jamison's NBA schedule often has conflicted with the Tar Heels' schedule. He always returns to his home in Charlotte, N.C., during the All-Star break, but every year North Carolina happens to be out of town or not playing. And the last time North Carolina was in an NCAA final - April 5, 2005 - Jamison and the Wizards were playing the Boston Celtics the same night.

“The last couple of times, the season and the schedule just never panned out to go back and hang out,” Jamison said. “I never had an opportunity to go back and see a game. So it should be fun, and hopefully we enjoy ourselves.”

Notes:Young was held out of Monday's practice to let his sprained left knee heal another day, but he said he expects to play Wednesday night in Cleveland. …

Fellow guard Juan Dixon did take part in practice, which was a positive development considering he had missed six straight games with a strained right Achilles tendon, played 19 minutes Saturday and was believed to have aggravated the injury. At the time, Wizards interim coach Ed Tapscott believed the guard could have been done for the season, but Dixon's injury ended up being less serious than expected. …

The only Wizards players other than Young who did not practice were guards DeShawn Stevenson and Mike James (both done for the season following respective back and finger surgeries), and backup center Etan Thomas, who is rehabbing from a partial MCL tear suffered in January.

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