Game 4, Sunday, May 12, 2013. Oakland, California.
Jarrett Jack’s Redemption Song played for two and a half hours on Sunday afternoon in Oakland, California. The song was on repeat at Oracle Arena, unofficially renamed the “Roar-acle,” for Jack’s 37 minutes of play. Following a sub-par, 11-point (5 of 12 shooting), 3-rebound performance on Friday night, and three less-than-stellar games against San Antonio, Jack came to the rescue of the Golden State faithful and catapulted the Warriors into a 2-2 series tie with the Spurs as the teams head back to Texas for Tuesday night’s Game 5.
Jack has a rare skill among guards. He can get two shots off: a mid-range jumper and a running floater among bigger defenders. Where other guards would get blocked, Jack gets the ball over out-stretched arms because of the arc he puts on the shot. The floater is reminiscent of Tony Parker and Steve Nash. If we go back to the 1990’s, think of Sherman Douglas. On the full gallop, certain diminutive guards have a knack for avoiding the blocked shot. But few of them have the ability to hit the shot with much accuracy.
Jack’s ball-handling is also a skill, though it can lead to over-dribbling, which takes teammates out of the game from time to time. Jack is the proverbial “wild card.” Jarrett finished third in this year’s “Sixth Man of the Year” voting, an award that goes to the most valuable reserve in the league. J.R. Smith and Jamal Crawford finished one and two. Like Smith and Crawford, Jack’s role was to provide instant offense and infuse energy into those second quarter lulls, beating rookies and other reserves off the dribble. Like Smith and Crawford, Jack would often finish the game on the court, helping the team find shots in crunch time. On countless occasions this year, Jack was a fourth-quarter catalyst for both Curry and Thompson, creating enough balance for the Warriors to survive difficult tests, winning road games they’d lost in previous years.
Jack’s weaknesses are passing and lateral quickness, which allows opposing point guards to drive by him at will. Jack is more suited to defending 2 guards. In the playoffs, these weaknesses have often been exploited, leading to some costly turnovers and factoring in the demise of Golden State’s crunch-time offense. However, when Jack is finding ways to get that shot off, dribbling all over the edges of the court, the Spurs defenders swarming Thompson and the hobbled Curry (who still contributed 22 points on 15 shots and 5 of 10 from range), Jack’s penetration and knack for finding a split-second opening in the paint enabled the Warriors to overcome an 8-point deficit (80-72) with 4:50 remaining.
This edition of the Golden State Warriors have an element of redemption to them. A coach that won’t stop pushing them to greater heights. With a complete, devotional confidence in each of his players. Doubt can kill an athlete. Free-throw line disasters. Pitching mound melt-downs. Goal-line interceptions. Complete belief in one’s abilities can make one look foolish. Can lead to dribbling the ball for 23 seconds and then heaving up an air-ball with the shot clock expiring. But it can also lead to dribbling your way out of trouble, spinning in the lane, and sinking that clutch, fading jumper, or tossing in that floater over Duncan, in traffic.
Here you go, Jarrett Jack. Bob Marley sings for you today:
Emancipate yourself from mental slavery,
None but our self can free our mind.
Won’t you help to sing,
These songs of freedom?
‘Cause all I ever had,
All I ever had,
These songs of freedom
Songs of freedom.