I remember when Sam came to New Jersey back in the middle of the 1996-1997 season. I was a jersey enthusiast, and I really enjoyed that flat, matte, open-hole, heavyweight true-blue mesh Nets jersey from that era. I was also antsy to see Sam I Am play with my favorite player, Jimmy Jackson. Honestly, as happy as I was for him to get out of those stupid navy and thick-pinstriped Houston Rockets uniforms, I was sad to know that he would get virtually no love on cable playing for a cellar dweller like the Nets.
What I loved most about Sam Cassell was that he was a true guard, just as effective playing the point as he was playing as an off-guard. That was his greatest strength. He could go into any situation and be both what he wanted and what the Nets needed. He didn’t back down, and that’s probably why he pretended to carry an imaginary set of dinosauric testicles after he made big shots. More power to him in my book.
I was excited by the SLAM Magazine cover that he was on in the late 1990s. Of course, the prediction was that he would be part of a dynasty with New Jersey, but in my heart, I knew that wasn’t going to happen. Jayson Williams wasn’t focused enough, Kerry Kittles wasn’t skilled enough, Keith Van Horn wasn’t quite good enough, Kendall Gill wasn’t sharp enough, and before any of these things would manifest themselves, Sam would surely have enough.
Was I happy to see him go? No. Was I sad to see him go? Also, no. He got more time elsewhere on TV, and selfishly, I saw as much as I wanted of good ol’ Sam I Am.