Jarrett Jack does not stay in one place for very long. Just take a look at his summer. From D.C. to L.A. to Las Vegas, the Brooklyn Nets' point guard zigzagged across the country to make appearances, visit friends, and look for new places to work out as he prepared for the 2015--16 season, his second with the team.
"When you're grinding during the season, you see the same practice gym," says Jack, who alters his workouts whenever he travels. "In L.A., I'll do sprints on the beach, which is something I can't do when I'm in Vegas. Switching up cities keeps my mind fresh and gets me in a good space."
The actual location of that space, however, has constantly changed since he was a teenager. Jack, an all-around good guy and playmaker, has been all around the NBA. The 32-year-old, who went to four different high schools, is entering his eleventh season with his seventh team. Why all the movement? Well, he's one of the most desired and well-liked players in the league. He's a quick learner and a strong facilitator with a knack for building solid relationships with his teammates.
"My agent told me, 'You get traded a lot because you're in demand,'" he says.
Now Jack may be on the move again. But there's no change of address needed. After spending most of his career coming off the bench, Jack is a probable Nets starter, with the departure of point guard Deron Williams. "I'm ready," Jack says. "The playmaking and leadership I bring will help me with any role I'm asked to take."
Jack became a basketball nomad when he was in high school. He attended DeMatha Catholic and St. Vincent Pallotti in Maryland, where he grew up. Those schools, however, "weren't the right fit" for him. Jack transferred to Mount Zion Christian Academy in North Carolina — living away from family and friends for the first time — and broke the school's single-game scoring record with 56 points as a junior. After the Mount Zion basketball coach left, Jack packed his bags once again and settled at Worcester Academy in Massachusetts. He averaged 20.2 points, 10.5 assists, 7.1 rebounds, and 3.1 steals his senior year.
Jack spent three years at Georgia Tech, where he found a niche as a late-game hero. In 2004 he sank a 17-footer with 1.4 seconds left to beat North Carolina in the ACC tournament, then lifted the Yellow Jackets past Boston College with a critical steal and a thunderous dunk in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The next year Jack was selected by the Denver Nuggets with the 22nd pick of the NBA draft.
Then the merry-go-round began to spin: That same night he was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers.
In Portland, Jack earned a starting spot in his second NBA season. But he didn't stay long. In 2008 he was traded to the Indiana Pacers. A year later he signed as a free agent with the Toronto Raptors, where he reunited with former teammate Chris Bosh. "We played together at Georgia Tech. He's one of my closest friends," Jack says. He also built a tight bond with future All-Star DeMar DeRozan. "That was my young guard. I took him under my wing," Jack says. "I'm happy to see his success."
Jack's time in Toronto was one of his most memorable experiences. "Seeing the differences in culture, the way Canadians speak, and currency — living outside of the country was really cool," he remembers.
In November 2010, he landed with the New Orleans Hornets (now Pelicans), where the following season he had career-high averages: 15.6 points and 6.3 assists per game. In the summer of 2012 he was part of a three-team trade that took him to the Golden State Warriors. Jack provided a spark off the bench, averaging 17.2 points and 4.7 assists over 12 postseason games. He also shot 50.6% from the field to help the Warriors make the Western Conference semifinals after a five-year playoff drought.
The Warriors lost Jack when he signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2013. Former Golden State coach Mark Jackson praised Jack upon his departure. "He's a great leader, loves the game, no nonsense," Jackson told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "It was the best money that the Cavs could have ever spent."
But when the Cavs made plans to bring LeBron James back, they had to unload Jack's $6 million annual contract. They traded him to the Nets before the beginning of last season.
Suiting up in a bevy of different backcourts hasn't flustered Jack. "I think players coming into the league want to be tenured guys who play for the same team for their entire career," he says. "I was able to experience different team cultures. I appreciate that. Besides, it's always a fresh start."
But there is one thing that does stink: "The moving!" Jack says. Especially when there's a lot to keep track of, like his collection of 1,000-plus pairs of sneakers. "I watch each pair go into the boxes. I keep an eye on them since I move so much!"
In the midst of unpacking, Jack also studies new team terminology.
"Teams might use the same words, but [the] meaning can be different. I'm the point guard — the person who has to tell the team what the coach wants. If I don't understand the vocabulary, then it can get messy," Jack says.
Things did get messy in his second game against the Utah Jazz in 2010. "I was just traded from Toronto to New Orleans, and my coach called 'black.' In New Orleans, it means a defensive switch. In Toronto, it meant something different. I totally blew my assignment," Jack remembers. "Now I take notes and quiz myself."
Jack says he's fluent in Nets jargon, which helped him average 12.0 points and 4.7 assists last season while backing up Williams, who accepted a Nets buyout and signed with the Dallas Mavericks this summer.
As Jack preps for a move into the starting point guard role with the new-look Nets, some analysts predict the team — which last year finished third in the Atlantic division and pushed the Atlanta Hawks to six games in the first round of the playoffs — will drop to the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Jack is not buying that. He aims to help turn the Nets into contenders.
"We want to bring a new brand of Nets basketball this season — a lot more fast-paced, up-tempo," Jack says. "I hear the criticisms about us. I don't have a rebuttal. I've always lived by the motto, Be seen, not heard. When we get on the court, that's when we'll show and prove them wrong."
Photos: Steve Boyle for Sports Illustrated (profile), Greg Nelson for Sports Illustrated (Portland), David E. Klutho for Sports Illustrated (Indiana), Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images (Toronto), John W. McDonough for Sports Illustrated (New Orleans), Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images (Golden State), Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images (Cleveland), Nathaniel S. Butler/ NBAE/Getty Images (Brooklyn), Jim McIsaac/Getty Images (action)
Jarrett Jack’s Career as an NBA Guard Has Taken Him Everywhere!
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