You should know Jack - guard key to Warriors' success
Published: Sunday, January 6, 2013 at 7:50 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 7, 2013 at 12:02 p.m.
Jarrett Jack had a jumbo rubber band around his ankles.
It was green and thick, and Jack ran forward and backward the other day at the Warriors' facility, the rubber band inhibiting his movement. He ran because he's getting over a stress fracture in his right foot and he's trying to increase his explosiveness.
Jack isn't one of the two most important players on the Warriors — David Lee and Stephen Curry are.
But 6-foot-3 Jack is one reason the Warriors are a team on the rise. Last season, the Warriors had zero depth. They had starters and then they had no one, and now they have depth at all positions even though they don't have Andrew Bogut and Brandon Rush.
Depth is the theme of their season. And part of that depth is Jack coming off the bench at the off guard. At the end of games, Jack takes over the point and Curry moves to the off guard and Jack runs the team, just runs it.
Add Carl Landry and Andris Biedrins — yes, Biedrins — and the Warriors win games with defense and rebounding and teamwork. They are a real team, something we haven't seen from them in a long time. Jack, whom they got in the offseason in a three-team trade, is one of the engines that makes the team go in the crisis moments of a game.
“I know even if you don't start, you're able to have an imprint on the game,” Jack said. “I have grown to be able to wear different hats, so to speak, being able to play the point guard, being able to play the off guard, start, come off the bench, try to be as effective as you can. You're valuable not only in one lane.”
Here is general manager Bob Myers on the 29-year-old Jack: “A lot of times you wonder what the player's mindset will be when you trade for him. It's not like we drafted him. They are forced to go to a new organization whether they like it or not. He has a maturity about him that fits with any team. He's a tough inner-city guy and he carries with him respect throughout the league — that's not given lightly in the NBA.”
This is how Jack perceived the Warriors when he played against them.
“They were soft,” he said. “When I say soft I don't mean, ‘Let's go out there and tussle and put up your dukes.' I mean, ‘Can they execute down the stretch? If you turn up the pressure, will they turn the ball over? When things get tight, will they fold under pressure?'
“I grew up in D.C. and it kind of made me tough in life and in basketball. If you're like — ‘Oh, my goodness, we just turned the ball over twice. Now, it's a tie game, I can't turn it over' — if you have that thought in your head, you're probably going to turn it over.
“If you're like — ‘OK, we turned it over twice, let me get this ball. I'm going to make a play.' Or, ‘I know Steph's going to make a play.' Or ‘Steph's got the ball and I've got to be over here ready to make a shot.'
“Don't be surprised when the moment hits you. Want it.”
Seven Warriors are rookies or in their second year. Jack is a wise leader who guides them.
“I tell Festus (Ezeli), Draymond (Green), Harrison (Barnes) Kent (Bazemore), ‘This isn't the norm for an NBA team to have the camaraderie we have and how hard we play.' In this league, getting guys to play hard every night is a task,” Jack said. “It goes to the foundation Coach (Mark Jackson) built for us in training camp and we have a genuine like for one another. I think we call each other friends.
“The thing that's different between college and the league is in college you've got teammates. Here you've got coworkers. I've been on teams, other than when we're at the office, we don't talk to one another. We don't go to dinner. I've never been to his house. I don't know his family.
“Here it's a total 180. For Christmas some guys weren't able to be with their families. I had my family here. My mother and father cooked. I called everybody, ‘Come on over.' Now, my family is familiar with the Jenkins family and so on. Some guys on our team don't play a minute, but they cheer as if they've been in the game and they scored 30 points. You don't get that in the NBA. That's not the norm. You get guys over there like this, (Jack sat stone-faced).
“There's two types of guys in this league. There are guys who love basketball to the core. And there's guys who love the lifestyle. We've got guys who love to play. It's a bit of luck. When you draft certain guys, you don't know how they'll mesh. You do the proper due diligence but you never know until those pieces get put into the puzzle.”
So far, the pieces fit for the Warriors. They are the surprise story of the NBA. Part of the reason is their depth and much of their depth is Jarrett Jack who, with all respect, helps you forget about that guy named Monta Something or Other.
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