Dec. 7, 2013
By Jon Cooper
The Big 3-0.
It’s a milestone everywhere…except maybe in the NBA, where it relegates one to “Elder Statesman” status.
Jarrett Jack turned 30 on October 28.
Yellow Jackets fans reading that may be sitting in disbelief not only that Jack has hit that milestone but that it’s really been 10 years since he was running the attack for the team that would reach the 2004 Championship Game.
Jack, an Honorable Mention All-American (2005), a two-time All-ACC performer (third-team in 2004, second team in 2005) and one of sixth Yellow Jackets in the 1,000-points, 500-assists club, is still leaving people in disbelief, as he thrives in his ninth NBA season, as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
On Nov. 9 against Philadelphia, Jack became only the sixth player in NBA history to come off the bench and score 20 points, grab four rebounds hand out five assists, commit three steals and block three shots in the same game. (The League started tracking stats on starters and subs in 1970).
Jack made the Cavaliers his sixth NBA team when he signed a four-year deal with them this past July 12. He has been a valuable piece to their puzzle as Coach Mike Brown’s first man off the bench.
Second-runner-up for NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 2013 while with Golden State, Jack has been a veteran leader in the locker room for the young Cavaliers, whose roster includes nine players with two-or-fewer years of NBA experience, while also providing a spark both offensively and defensively.
Sting Daily caught up with Jack prior to the Cavs’ Nov. 6 game against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena. Among other things, he talked about the importance of showing up for games at Philips, the importance, but bad luck, in showing up for a game at McCamish Pavilion, and the importance to him and his teammates of the ACC showing up in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
STING DAILY: Is it nice for you to come back and play in Atlanta?
Jarrett Jack: Yeah, it’s where I live. I got to go to my house last night, lay on my bed for a little bit. It’s always cool coming back to a place where I had some of the earliest success you could have. Just seeing familiar faces and getting that little itch when you walk into the city is always good.
SD: Do you check the schedule at the beginning of the season to see when you’re coming to Atlanta?
JJ: It’s one of those things that some days, even when you’re just looking at a bunch of games jumbled up on a calendar, it kind of just jumps out at you. It is always one of them. I love coming into this building. We played some games here when I was in college, the bigger games. It’s just always fun. I always feel like I’ve got to get a `W’ here because in the summertime I’ve got to have bragging rights. I don’t want hear anybody’s mouth when I come back.
SD: How closely do you stay in touch with your former Tech teammates?
JJ: I talk to a good amount of them. Guys like B.J. Elder, Anthony McHenry, all those guys, I see them on a regular basis when their seasons are done overseas. Me and Chris Bosh talk all the time. He just had a baby. I keep in touch with almost everybody.
SD: On Nov. 9 against Philadelphia, you became one of only six players in NBA history to come off the bench and score 20 points with four rebounds, five assists, three steals and three blocked shots. How does it feel to be in such select company?
JJ: Oh, wow! That’s crazy. That’s some good trivia. I would bet those other five guys are probably some pretty prominent people. To try to name the sixth being me, that would be good trivia. I just try to play good basketball, regardless of the results. Those numbers that you just mentioned or if it’s something that’s a bit more modest, I’m just trying to have a positive impact, a positive effect on the team, that’s all I set out to do every single night.
SD: Did you know that you’re fourth on the Cavaliers in blocked shots?
JJ: Oh, well, you know, that’s something that I’m definitely going to let [Cavaliers big men] Andrew Bynum (7-0), Tristan Thompson (6-9) and Anderson Varejao (6-10) hear about, I know I had three blocks last game (Dec. 4, vs. Denver), too, that was kind of crazy.
SD: You’ve also led or had a share of the team lead in blocks three times.
JJ: (Looking at 6-10 forward Earl Clark who sits down next to him) That just lets me know that Earl Clark isn’t really patrolling the paint the way he’s supposed to be (laughs). I’ve just got to go out there and handle my business.
SD: How important is it to you to be a veteran presence on this team that has nine players with two-or-fewer years of NBA experience?
JJ: it’s a challenge that I welcome. Regardless of if the kids have two years under their belt or 12, if I see something that can be beneficial for the team or just for guys individually, it’s in my makeup to step up and say something.
SD: Is it weird to be considered an elder statesman?
JJ: It’s weird, me just turning 30, being 30 for a little bit over a month now, being the oldest guy on the team.
SD: How closely do you follow the Jackets?
JJ: I’m definitely watching them closely. I watched the big win they had the other night over Illinois. They kind of scared me coming down the stretch there but they were able to pull the game out.
SD: Cleveland’s roster has a bunch of former ACC guys on it. Playing in the heart of Big Ten country, how important was it for the ACC to win the ACC-Big Ten Challenge?
JJ: It’s big. Kyrie [Irving]’s a Duke kid. Syracuse is a new addition into the conference (Cavs’ guard Dion Waiters played with the Orange). Tyler Zeller is a UNC guy. There’s a lot of talk. I don’t know if Syracuse is all the way in yet. We’ve got to let them at least play one league game before we can hear any of their nonsense.
[NOTE: The series ended in a 6-6 tie, but Georgia Tech, Duke, North Carolina and Syracuse, all represented on the Cavaliers’ roster, took home victories.]
SD: Does Tech’s taking care of Syracuse handily in its football game count?
JJ: Yeah. Coach Johnson does a tremendous job with those guys, with their Spread Option stuff. It’s real tricky. Hopefully they can finish up strong. I don’t know what bowl they’ll be in but hopefully they’ll get into something spectacular and they can handle some business.
SD: Have you been to McCamish Pavilion?
JJ: I went in there, but it wasn’t fully done when I walked in there. I think they were putting the last finishing coat on the floor. But as far as walking around, touring the new locker room, I think they did a tremendous job in there.
SD: It’s a shame the Cavaliers have a game [Saturday] night, as Tech has a 2:00 p.m. matinee. You probably could have gone.
JJ: Man, I know. I never catch the luck of the draw when that happens. Crazy enough, Chris [Bosh], when he comes, he’s always able to catch a game. During the All-Star Break or if we have an extended break sometime during the season, I’ll try to fly back and catch one. Hopefully the next time we come back here they’ll have something at home.
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