Jarrett Jack shuffles around the visitor’s locker room at TD Garden in Boston, exchanging jokes with teammates and members of the Golden State Warriors’ traveling staff. He seems to be setting the market for tickets allotted for road games, collecting a number and neatly stacking them in his locker.
This is a ritual that is unknown to many, but monopolizes considerable time prior to every NBA game. Jack has amassed what seems like dozens of tickets for the night’s Warriors-Celtics game and he’s scribbling names on numerous envelopes as he reflects on his relatively short tenure with his fifth franchise.
“It’s been a tremendous amount of fun and a pleasure to play with these guys and coaches,” Jack told RealGM. “It’s definitely the most fun I’ve experienced as a pro and I’m looking forward to building off of it.”
Jack was the 22nd overall pick in 2005 and has shared point guard duties with the Portland Trail Blazers, Indiana Pacers, Toronto Raptors and New Orleans Hornets in addition to this season with Golden State. The Warriors acquired him in a three-team deal with the Hornets and 76ers last July.
There are four rookies on Golden State’s roster -- Harrison Barnes, Kent Bazemore, Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green -- three of which have played in at least 61 games. The fourth, Bazemore, has appeared in 45 contests. Seven players are under 25 years old and Richard Jefferson, 32, is the only teammate older than the 29-year-old.
“There’s always an adjustment period when you put a group of different guys together, but we were able to gel really quickly,” said Jack. “That’s a testament to the front office, doing a great job and also to the guys in the locker room. The IQs are really high as we’ve been able to come together and be effective.”
They have faltered a bit lately, dropping 12 of their last 18 games, but were good enough over the first half to remain a part of the playoff race in the packed Western Conference. They entered Tuesday’s action at 36-29 with slim leads over the Rockets, Jazz and Lakers for the sixth seed. Those four clubs will battle for three spots over the season’s final month.
As he has since entering the league, Jack has filled a number of roles this season. He’s been both a starter and reserve, riding early-season success to Sixth Man of the Year consideration. He has logged 35 or more minutes 14 times and seen 25 or fewer minutes 15 times. He’s content to do whatever Mark Jackson asks of him.
“I do whatever they ask of me, whenever I’m called upon. Whatever’s needed. That’s what I hang my hat on; trying to flourish in whatever role comes my way,” Jack explained. “At the end of the day, that means people can look at you as a player and know you can contribute in more ways than one.”
Jack’s numbers have fallen as of late -- 8.6 points, 2.7 assists and 2.3 rebounds in March -- but his overall numbers will still earn him votes for Sixth Man honors.
“It’s cool, but I didn’t start the season trying to play towards an individual trophy and I’m not going to think too much about it right now,” Jack said when asked about the possibility of being recognized. “It’s humbling to be mentioned in any category for an individual accolade, but I prefer to play for other player’s goals. I think if you are selfless enough to play for someone else, then the [goals] you have will fall in line.”
In his eighth season, Jack might also find himself among the leading vote-getters for the unwritten most popular player award. There is rarely a game before which he isn’t embracing a few opposing players. If you didn’t know his occupation and ignore his athletic frame, you might think he’s running for office.
“I’m pretty well-connected around the league for whatever reason,” Jack said with a smile. “I’ve crossed a lot of paths across this journey of playing basketball and, you know, I’ve been able to make some pretty good friends. On the court, all those relationships go out the window, but I’ve got a lot of guys -- Jeff Green -- that I still keep in contact with. Me and Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, we’re cool.”
Quite simply, Jack is good people. He has bounced around since he was a teenager, attending four different high schools (across three states) before spending three years at Georgia Tech. While he has amassed an endless number of friends as a professional, Jack was famous for his popularity even as a junior in college. Sarah Thurmond chronicled his relationships in a Sports Illustrated piece called ‘Everybody Knows Jack’ back in 2005.
In trying to decide what member of the Warriors might be interesting to profile, a Bay Area beat writer mentioned how Jack hosted a number of teammates for Christmas dinner without prompting. Recognition isn’t what he was looking for and Jack insisted that the gesture was an easy one.
“Some of [their families] might not have been able to make it, for whatever reason, and in my opinion no one should be alone during any type of holiday,” he said. “We look at each other like a family, so if they wanted to come over and have some laughs and enjoy the holiday with my immediate and extended family [gestures around the locker room] -- that’s no problem at all.”
Not yet 30, Jack is the veteran leader of this team. He has played that role before, providing a stabilizing presence at past stops when he was green himself. A free agent this coming summer, Jack doesn’t fit any specific mold. He could provide a punch off the bench for a contender, leadership to a young club or anything else a general manager might need.
“I try to give them a lot of my experiences, things that I’ve gone through in the league. Some of them may look at me now and say, ‘You didn’t go through these things, these periods,’ but I did it and I did it on teams that were as close-knit, as well-rounded and as well run as this one,” Jack revealed of counseling sessions with his younger teammates.
“I tell them ‘I know exactly how you are feeling when you get down in those moments, especially when you start to question yourself.’ When you are going through that for the first time, there are a lot of things you are naïve to and just haven’t learned yet. They do a great job of listening and being receptive.”
The only thing Jack hasn’t experienced is an extended playoff run, but that’s something he’s to experience this spring with the Warriors.