In the words of every main character during every crucial moment in every movie ever…
“It’s about damn time.”
For months or more, the NBA G League world has waited for Texas Legends big man Jameel Warney to receive an NBA call-up. Legends head coach Bob MacKinnon said that when Warney finally did get the call, “it’s going to be one of the greatest days of my life.”
News started to break earlier this week that the Dallas Mavericks were indeed planning on signing the big man to a 10-day contract, at last kickstarting his NBA career. In fact, word broke before even Warney himself could find out the big news.
“I woke up from a nap and saw I had a lot of messages,” Warney said. “I didn’t pay any mind but then I went on Twitter. People were congratulating me about something. I called my agent to see what was going on, he told me the deal. I was like ‘wow, finally.’”
The digital age brought Jameel Warney into the NBA. A combination of texts, phone calls and the enduring power of social media notified the Legend that he was now a Maverick.
Officially signing on Sunday, March 11th, Warney will enter the big league locker room with the same mentality that has served him well as one of the G League’s premier players.
“There’s five games in a 10-day period, so I’m just going to do what they want me to do and be ready for my opportunity. If I don’t get it, keep on being a great teammate. Be the first person to practice, do things I always do. Don’t stray away from the norm and do things I don’t usually do.”
That disciplined routine has resulted in Warney becoming a star player and an unconditional fan, employee, team and city favorite during his two seasons with the Legends.
In 83 games for the organization, the Stony Brook alum averaged 18.5 points, 8.8 rebounds –3.4 offensive boards–, 2.1 assists, 1.2 blocks and 1.1 steals.
“With this team, with this organization, I treat them as family,” Warney says of the Texas Legends. “They’ve been with me for the last two years. They know me. They definitely hold a special place in my heart. I’m happy that they get to see me finally get called up.”
When he wasn’t making waves in the G League, Warney played for Jeff Van Gundy in the 2017 FIBA AmeriCup games and not only brought home a gold medal, took home the tournament’s MVP award, a surefire sign of his status among the G League’s most capable future stars.
Nobody has graduated more players from the NBA G League to the NBA than coach Bob MacKinnon, but Warney finally receiving his well-deserved promotion holds special recognition, and this is certainly appreciated from player to coach.
“It’s great. Obviously coach Mac has helped me out a lot these past two years, helping me get better and getting me where I need to be at. He helped me work on my weaknesses and make me confident to make them strengths. I’m happy that he was my coach here. He put me in a great situation here with the Legends. Now I gotta take this opportunity and run with it.”
The 2017 USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year unfortunately lost his father earlier this year, but the silver lining has been the support from friends, family and the Legends organization.
“After he passed away, it was a struggle to get back to my regular self. With help from the Legends, people around here and my friends and family, I was put in a great spot to get back to how it was. I appreciate them keeping me focused and just having an open ear whenever I needed them.”
As cliche as it is now in the sports world to hear about teams being referred to as “family,” it cannot help but ring true for Warney. Most players of his caliber are not around as long as he was in Frisco, but he made every moment precious for himself and those around him, from interns to office employees to coaches to his teammates.
Many players in Warney’s talented shoes would have grown past the point of patience long ago. Truthfully speaking, that never came into play for the Legends star. Sure, he has been awaiting this day for some time, but his passion for winning and commitment to making history for MacKinnon’s Legends has assuaged the inexplicable delay.
“It wasn’t all about getting called up,” he explains. “Me, personally, I’m a competitive guy and I just want to win. Helping the Legends to tie a franchise-high with 25 wins (record set last season), that was always my mindset. To keep on winning and get to the playoffs. Just control what I control. I was really just worried about winning for the Legends at the time and if I get called up, I get called up.”
For all the jubilance his call-up has brought not just to himself, but to his peers (guilty) and the organization, a special shoutout put the cherry on top of a monumental day.
“That was the best moment of the day! Those are my guys over there at Crocs. They gave me that shoutout, that love. I appreciate them for that and hopefully I can get some more Crocs!”
Get this man some crocs. He’s already got an NBA contract.