Jerome Keith James (born November 17, 1975 in Tampa, Florida) currently plays for the New York Knicks of the NBA. James played at Florida A&M University, and was selected by the Sacramento Kings in the second round of the 1998 NBA Draft. Over the course of a six-year career, he has played for the Kings, Seattle Supersonics and New York Knicks. He has also played for the Harlem Globetrotters.
James has averaged 4.6 points and 3.2 rebounds per game in 325 career games (168 games started). Despite his huge stature and athletic ability, James has, for the most part, remained a career backup, mostly due to the alarming rate at which he is charged with personal fouls. During his tenure with Seattle, he was criticized by the media for his laziness and generally uninspired play, and found it hard to coexist with his teammates, until his last season with the Sonics, in which he started a tradition of huddling all the players together after games, win or lose, an uncommon practice in the NBA. Star guard Ray Allen became his biggest advocate on the team. James played well during the 2005 NBA playoffs, averaging 12.5 points and 6.8 rebounds in 11 games against the Kings and San Antonio Spurs.
After the 2004-2005 season, he signed a 5-year $30 million free-agent contract with the Knicks, a move which many believe was done solely on the basis of his playoff performance in the past season without taking his entire career into consideration. From the moment he joined the Knicks, James has been a disappointment. He arrived at his first training camp out of shape and in his first season he only averaged 3.1 points and 2.1 rebounds in 9 minutes per game. James missed much of the season due to injury and when he wasn't injured, he was frequently in the doghouse for conditioning or attitude problems. James was suspended on January 2, 2006 for not being prepared to practice.
James is often cited as one of many questionable signings done by Knicks General Manager Isiah Thomas. Tommy Beer of HoopsWorld wrote "James was universally panned as the worst free-agent signing of the summer (and in the pantheon of all-time worst.)" He is also sometimes cited as an example of the "contract year phenomenon", where an athlete with impending free agency plays at a higher level than he ever has before, only to return to his normal level of play once he joins his new team. Dan Zink of NJ.com wrote that "Jerome James is a nice example of the contract-year player." Chris Mannix of CNNSI.com wrote "James was a chronic underachiever who cashed in on a brief moment of excellence". He also wrote that the Knicks signing James "was a mistake before he ever took the court at Madison Square Garden. The day the Knicks announced his signing, they were universally panned by executives, experts, journalists -- really anyone with a voice box."
- James was fifth in the NBA in blocks per minute played during the 2004-2005 season.
- James is one of the most foul-prone players in the NBA. In 290 career games, he has been called for 859 personal fouls. Averaging 14.7 minutes of playing time per game (4,275 total minutes), James is called for 3.0 fouls per game, or 9.6 fouls per 48 minutes played.
- James claims that after being released by the Kings, he was given a garbage bag to clean out his locker. Following the Sonics' playoff series win against Sacramento in the 2004-05 season, he paraded around the court with a trash bag tied to his neck.
- Once, when asked if he was concerned about his former coach Nate McMillan commenting that he has a selfish attitude, replied, "I don't even know what he's talking about, I just worry about Jerome."
- Once dunked on an 11'4" (3.45 m) basket while touring with the Harlem Globetrotters.
- James had no prior experience played organized basketball before college, and majored in pre-law at Florida A&M.
- While James was at Florida A&M University, he led the entire NCAA in blocks per game, and finished his college career at 15th all-time in NCAA history after just three years of play.
- Is nicknamed Big Snacks.
- James wears a size 22 shoe.
- Was suspended for one game for leaving the bench during the Knicks-Nuggets brawl.