Jarrett Jack remains in Warriors’ hearts
OAKLAND — Basketball is a business. In business, deals are made, assets are moved for the betterment of a company, and money is king.
But in basketball, those assets are people, and the money, their salaries.
Usually when a player leaves for a new team, he packs up, says his goodbyes, and gets on with the game.
Jarrett Jack is not usual.
Few players have left a mark so deep and permanent on a franchise, fan base, and team than Jack did while at Golden State — and he was only a Warrior for a single season.
On July 12, 2013 Jack signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers after the Warriors decided not to extend his contract.
Upon arriving with the Cavs Thursday for what would be Jack’s first game back at Oracle Friday night, Jack took to Twitter:
Back bay too many thoughts right now…….
— JARRETT JACK (@Jarrettjack03) March 13, 2014
Jack told SFBay that being back in the Bay Area just made him remember how much the city and fans meant to him, and how they embraced him:
“Just walking amongst the city, amongst the people, amongst the hustle and bustle, people were just expressing the way that they felt about the team and the way I played and what I helped give to the city. It was just flattering.”
Once at Oracle, instead of suiting up and taking to the court, Jack walked through the hallways and tunnels of the arena, hugging security guards, ushers, and Warriors personnel:
“It’s just about the relationships that were built, it was bigger than just the team. These people did a tremendous job of making sure we were able to come to work in a comfortable environment and they were right along there with us through the ups and downs of the season. I just wanted to come say ‘hi’ and let them know I didn’t forget about them and hopefully they didn’t forget about me.”
To an outsider, it might have seemed like Jack was a star player leaving for another team. But Jack was the Warriors’ sixth-man — finishing third in NBA sixth-man of the year voting — and only started when injuries forced him into the top five.
Warriors head coach Mark Jackson told SFBay Jack’s position didn’t matter, and that Jack was a role model and helped to change everyone at Golden State:
“He’s had an impact on this organization, this fan base, these players and obviously me as a coach. I thought it was important for that to be celebrated, the way he conducted himself.”
Before tip-off Friday night, the jumbo screen at Oracle displayed a photo of Jack in his Warriors uniform next to the words “Welcome back Jarrett Jack.”
When he was announced for the Cavs starting line-up, the crowd at Oracle rose to their feet for an ovation louder than most current Warriors starters.
Cleveland finished the night turning an 18-point deficit into a nine-point victory. After a result of that fashion most teams don’t usually stick around to chit-chat afterward.
But again, Jack is not usual.
As the media wrapped up interviews in the Warriors locker room, Jack walked in and called out “Steph.”
He walked over to Stephen Curry’s locker, the two hugged and then talked like they were still on the same team. Curry said the result Friday was not what he wanted, but it doesn’t have an affect on the bond he shares with Jack:
“We just caught up on family things. You know, there’s a lot more to life than basketball. You get to know a guy being around him for so long, a year, every single day. Just catch up on things and wish each other well on the rest of the season.”
Loved by fans and teammates alike, Jack was also a favorite of the Bay Area media. Known for giving thoughtful answers that strayed from the usual robotic cliches, Jack had a way of drawing reporters to him.
Jack said that was something that came with time, and the most important thing was learning to listen:
“I believe you can not lead unless you’re able to listen first.”