- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 22, 2009

SACRAMENTO, Calif. | When the NBA announces the starters for the 2009 All-Star Game during a broadcast Thursday night on TNT, Washington Wizardsforwards Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler won’t be among them.

And with the 8-32 Wizards holding the worst record in the Eastern Conference and the second worst in the league, it’s unlikely either will make the East team as a reserve — which the league’s coaches decide on — when that announcement is made next week. That would end the Wizards’ four-year run of having at least one All-Star representative.

And while Jamison and Butler, both two-time All-Stars, said making the All-Star squad is the least of their concerns, they confess some disappointment that they likely won’t take part in the festivities next month in Phoenix.

“Part of you wishes you could make it. You think, you’ve made it two times, and it definitely would be nice to make it a third and go out there to Phoenix and enjoy that warm weather and time with your peers,” said Jamison, who made the 2005 and 2008 All-Star teams. “But you’ve got to understand, we’ve got the worst record in the Eastern Conference and one of the worst in the league, and part of being an All-Star is raising your team to another level, and that’s not happening.”

During the first half of the season, Jamison and Butler have put up individual numbers worthy of All-Star nods.

With team highs in both points (20.9) and rebounds (9.4), Jamison is one of only five players in the NBA this season averaging at least 20 points and 9.0 rebounds. The other players are Orlando’s Dwight Howard, Minnesota’s Al Jefferson, San Antonio’s Tim Duncan and Toronto’s Chris Bosh.

Meanwhile, Butler, a 2007 and 2008 All-Star, averages 19.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.7 steals a game. Cleveland’s LeBron James is the only other player in the NBA averaging at least 20 points, six rebounds and four assists.

“It’s tough but in my mind this is a players’ league and the players know we’ve been two of the top forwards in this league for a while now,” Butler said. “There has been situations where players have been on bad teams and played at high levels and still made it to the All-Star Game. So hopefully maybe one of us can go.”

If only Jamison and Butler could enjoy their performances. Instead, most nights end with them asking themselves what went wrong.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” Jamison said about working so hard and seeing little return. “You do everything possible in the offseason to make sure you’re ready to go, and unfortunately we have injuries and… a young team, and we haven’t been able to adjust. But the most important thing is when it’s all said and done, when the season’s done, you can know you did everything you could.”

Regardless of how frustrating this season has been, Jamison said he doesn’t regret signing a four-year, $50 million contract extension last summer to stay in the District. At the time, two of the teams reportedly poised to pursue Jamison were the Philadelphia 76ers (who at 20-21 are in the playoff hunt) and the Charlotte Bobcats (Jamison’s hometown team). But Jamison signed with the Wizards on June 30, the day before he would have hit the market as an unrestricted free agent.

“I never say, ‘I should’ve gone to Philly or gone back to Charlotte,’ because I had control over that,” Jamison said. “The only thing that gets me is why can’t we get healthy? I just want this to work. I signed on for four more years, and you wanna take advantage of the situation. You don’t wanna call this year a waste, but it hasn’t gone according to plan. So hopefully the next three years we can stay healthy and really have a chance to enjoy some success.”

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