We sat down with the newest Warrior, Jarrett Jack, Friday at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas. One thing was clear when the 20-minute interview was done: Jack is a veteran.
The Warriors’ biggest offseason move has something to say and he doesn’t seem to hold his tongue. He talked about toughening up the Warriors, about Dwight Howard’s corny behavior, about his eagerness to play before the storied Warriors fan base, about Brandon Rush’s afro, and about what what he’d do if the Warriors signed Kenyon Martin.
Ladies and gentleman, Jarrett Jack.
You having summer league flashbacks?
I never played a summer league game. When I got drafted, I hurt my ankle coming in. They told me to just chill out. Then the following season, my second year, I was the starting point guard in Portland.
You should tell that to Klay Thompson, who’s playing summer league anyway
I love it. It’s not too many guys that play in the NBA that actually love basketball. It’s good to hear. And he’s a young kid.
Are you happy about the trade?
It’s basketball at the end of the day. What is there not to be happy about. I get to do something I love. I’ve been always very vocal. It doesn’t matter where it is. I think everybody pretty much knows my M.O. I play hard. I come out there and try to do what I do in any way shape or fashion and help the team be a winner.
Will it feel pretty good to play for a team knocking on the playoff door?
That, and a team that’s damn near a sellout every night. That’s something I haven’t been accustomed to. Not too many teams can say they’re accustomed to on a night by night basis. And coach Jackson, I’m familiar with him. Coach Malone, who I spent some tome with in New Orleans. I’m just excited. Man. We’re coming together as a group. Still a fairly new bunch. Andrew’s first year. Mine. Klay’s a young guy. Harrison is getting joined into the mix. Getting Steph healthy. I think the process of us organically getting infused with each other is fun.
Think the triple double against the Warriors had something with them wanting you?
I don’t know (smile). It’s possible. That was one of my highlights in my career, my first triple-double. It was fun. We always had some battles with these guys. Even though I got the triple double, we didn’t win that game.
Did you know you didn’t have a turnover in that game?
Yeah, they kind of gave me the stat. Like the last person to do it was … I don’t know, somebody. Yet and still, none of that news made me happy. We still lost.
The Warriors seem to need some of that toughness you’re known for. Is that something that’s going to have to rub off on your teammates?
It’s going to have to if you’re going to want to get into postseason play as everybody’s predicting. The first thing I actually talked to coach Jackson about I think my role on this team is going to be (changing) our identity that we’re a team that just plays on one end of the floor. If we’re going to be a successful team, a postseason team, we’ve got to change that stigma. No matter how much of a game plan coach can come up with, we’ve got to have an attitude about ourselves that we’re going to take pride on the other end of the floor in being able to stop these good teams night in and night out.
Are you comfortable being vocal your first year on the team?
“I’m vocal during the game, as well as sitting down (on the bench). So we’re going to get it right. In training camp, I’m sure we’ll all get put together and introduced, we’ll have a meeting. I’m not going to come in there and try to stake my claim. But people respect certain things when they come from certain people and certain areas. That’s what I’m looking forward to doing.”
What do you need to add to get your game to the next level?
Last year obviously I had extended minutes and it was a situation where I came in and I was the unquestionable starter. A lot of people looked at me and said, ‘Man, you’re having a helluva year.’ I just felt like it finally was an opportunity I could fully take advantage of.New Orleans put me in a position I hadn’t been in since I had been in the league. I just kind of want to build off that year. … Even though I might not be able to replicate the same numbers, but just the impact I have on the team is something I want to bring to the table.
Any thoughts about playing with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, and all the possible ways you might be used?
One thing everybody knows about Golden State is you’re going to have a number of lineups you’re going to have to matchup with when playing against them. Getting thrown and put on a team like that its my first time where who knows where you could be on the court and the different possibilities. It’s a fun style of play they have up there. The fans respond to it night in and night out. It’s exciting.
Does that fit right up your alley?
Just playing. I think that’s natural from when you’re a kid. When get out there and you’re a kid playing in your neighborhood, y’all don’t label each others positions. You just get your five and make it work. Regardless of maybe playing out of position some days or whatever, but you still try to find ways to be effective.”
Does it mean something to you that you’re in a contract year?
“You know what man, this whole contract thing … at the end of the day, you’re going to end up with money than you had yesterday. That’s always been my goal, monetarily and as a player. Get better than you were yesterday. With that being said, I don’t worry about it. You’re going to get what you’re supposed to get as long as you come out and play hard. If you give everything you’ve got, you leave no stone unturned, you can be happy with yourself.”
You’ve seen guys let a contract year get to them?
I just think they make too much of it. In this league, pretty much nothing’s going to be ideal for most guys. You’re probably not going to get the playing time you want all the time. You’re not going to (get all the money you want). It’s not just going to be typically handed to you. There’s a certain number of guys that it’s like that for. But most of us, you kind of gotta go with the cards you’re dealt. With those cards, you try to overachieve as much as you can and take it for what its worth.
What do you think about the Warriors’ roster?
“Offensively, man, this has to be at the top, I think, as far as well-rounded ball clubs that can put the ball in the basket. But I think that’s what we already know. That defensive philosophy is the mentality we’re really going to have to master and put to use night in and night out, back-to-backs, four games in five nights. Those teams that really grind their teeth, bite down and sit down on that defensive end are the teams that are going to win usually in this league. We have to become one of those if we’re going to be a good team.”
Does Andrew Bogut have that?
“I think so. He’s got that fiery Australian attitude. You always need a frontline guy who can anchor the defense because they can see everything. They see everything and they’re able to communicate a lot of things, pick-and-rolls, screens, switches if necessary. … I think he’ll get (the frontline guys) on board and have them playing a certain type of basketball. He comes from the Scott Skiles method, if you will. I think it will be my job to get the perimeter to do the same.”
Do the Warriors just need better defensive players?
“I think it’s a want-to type of attitude. I think effort, for one. Even if you can’t be a lock-down defender. Having to guard guys one-on-one in this league for more than three or four dribbles is not an easy job. It’s going to have to be a team concept. But the one thing you can control night in and night out is your effort. Players know when somebody’s trying. Regardless if you’re getting beat like a drum or you’re stopping somebody, we know when you’re trying and giving that effort. At the end of the day, that’s all you can ask for.
“The thing that’s crazy is, normally, when you’re engaged on defense, you’re that much better on offense. Typically, defensive teams they turn it into turnovers, transition baskets. Good defensive possessions spawn good offensive possessions. It’s easier for us to run— we’re an uptempo team, taking the ball out the net every time slows you down. Let’s get some steals, misses, get a team playing a little haywire. That will definitely be beneficial to the offense.”
Mark Jackson might make you an assistant coach?
I don’t know. Everybody tells me they think I’m going to be a coach or a GM or something whenever this is over. I’m not trying to come in there and play both sides. I just want to come in and win and give these fans what I think they deserve. For them to be as in tuned with this team as they’ve been and these guys haven’t been a playoff team on a regular basis, I think it’s what they deserve and its what they should get.
Did that taste of the playoffs with CP3 make you more hungry to get back?
“That was my first and only playoffs and it was an amazing feeling. I’m a basketball junkie. I watch basketball all of the time. My life pretty much revolves around it. So I was like a kid in the candy store. I was taking pictures by the playoff logo. My brother was calling me talking about, ‘You about to play in the playoffs! How crazy is this?’ This stuff just never gets old to me. Being in the NBA. This time right here gets you real antsy. I was talking to Coach Monty (Williams) when Miami won it and they were presenting them with the trophy. And I don’t know why, but watching them get that trophy, I’m always like ‘Yo, I want to go to the gym right now.’ Every time. That time of year. When the draft hits. I don’t know why, but it’s those times you just start to get that itch. The season’s been over for a little bit and it just gets my competitive juices going for whatever reason.”
Were you shocked by the trade?
No. To be honest, when I saw they drafted Austin (Rivers) and they pretty much said they wanted him to play some point. Well, ok, you’ve got me, Greivis (Vasquez), Austin — it’s kind of like too many chefs in the kitchen. You’re going to try to play three people at one position. We tried to talk to them and ask them some questions. ‘What’s really going on. I’m going into my eighth year in my career, going into a contract year. This doesn’t seem like a situation that wouldn’t be fitting for anybody. Not just myself, but for anybody that’s trying to come in and compete and try to have a fair chance of being effective this season. We expressed that to them and said if you guys decide to make a move, just let me know. Like I said, it doesn’t matter where I play. I don’t care. I try to be productive wherever I am and I’ve been that in this league. I’m trying to take that same approach here.
So you didn’t go in there and say get me outta here?
“I was in Atlanta driving, got the phone call and that was pretty much it.”
Aren’t you supposed to give them a list of teams you want to play for?
“I’m not a fan of what is going on in today’s game with guys saying ‘I’m only going to go here.’ I think that’s kind of corny, to be honest. Look at this stuff that’s going on with Dwight (Howard). It’s crazy. C’mon, man. You’ve got a whole franchise in limbo. It’s kind of corny to me, all this team up. I’m not fond of it. When the whole situation went down with them, I was telling them, ‘Look, before we start talking about possible trade destinations, at the moment I’m a New Orleans Hornet. Let’s figure out something to make this situation work. Let’s do that first. If we can’t, then we can sit down and talk about … it didn’t get that far. They just called me and said this is what it is. I’m not that dude. I’m not the ‘I’m only going to’ kind of dude. That stuff is corny. I don’t like it.”
What do you know about Brandon Rush from playing in Indiana?
Me and B-Rush, we played together in Indiana, a.ka. Terrence Howard I call him, a.k.a. Todd Day. … We’re real cool. I joke with him on that all the time. I tell him he’s too young to have a haircut like Steve Harvey. You’ve got a pick and you’re like 23. C’mon B-Rush. B-Rush is crazy. Yeah, man. B-Rush is a very, very talented kid. I think he showed a tremendous amount of upside here. As he did in Indiana, but just wasn’t able to find his niche, for whatever reason. Maybe it was playing behind Danny and then they drafted Paul George. I think he’s a super, super talented kid. Carl Landry as well. Instant offense off the bench. Try to get Carl to dig in a little bit more on the defensive end, but we’ll figure it out. But a great dude. He sat next to me in the locker room. I think he would fit in well. I think the team would love to have him if he came.
What about Kenyon? Could you roll with him?
Hell yeah. We’d have to keep the leash attached. But with guys like Kenyon, you gotta have the leash on, but you’ve got be like, ‘You know what, Kenyon, go ahead. Go knock the hell out of somebody. Coach I told him to do it. Don’t even worry about it.’ Or a guy like Kenyon, he does a lot of the dirty work, a lot of the stuff that doesn’t get noticed. Hard fouls. Loose balls. Playing one-on-one defense against a top post player. With a guy like that, I’ve got to call his number every now and again. I think that’s kind of what he gets frustrated with. He does all that and feels like the effort he gives is under appreciated at times. Also with guys like Kenyon, so fiery, so emotional—it might be elementary or whatever—m but I think you’ve really got take the time to get to know them, understand their way of thinking. Some people may say, ‘Kenyon is crazy.’ Well find out why he’s crazy. You could be like, ‘OK, I think what you’re thinking is terrible. But at least I can see where you’re coming from.’ At least I can open the book and read it. I don’t want to just look at the cover. I think Kenyon is a guy who definitely could be useful here.
Kenyon will do some stuff that will make you say ‘I don’t want to spend time with him.’ But if you want to get him on board, you’ve got to go reach out to him. You can’t just leave him over there, because guys like him are already feel like an outcast. I played with a guy like Reggie Evans. Guys who probably aren’t going to do something to get you 20 points. But the thing he does, you’ve got to make sure they’re appreciated. Not saying you’ve got to go and wipe they nose all the time because they don’t want you to do that either. But you might want to call his number every now and again. And as a point guard, that’s the things you kind of got to do, you’ve got to know personalities and get familiar with everybody. That’s one thing I try to do, I try to build relationships with everybody and be able to kick it with anybody at any time.