Thankfully, not everyone in professional sports has Steve Smith’s outlook on former-employer relations.
Not for the Cavs’ Jarrett Jack, however.
Speaking with the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Mary Schmitt Boyer earlier this week, Jack registered somewhere between nostalgic and downright melancholy on the anticipation scale, recalling how he and his Warrior teammates stayed on the floor to thank the fans following a playoff loss to the San Antonio Spurs:
There's no way you can repay what those fans did for us all season. I thought if there was anything I could do that's the least of it. Those are the people who came and supported us, good, bad or indifferent. They were there. They were the one staple we could always count on. I always really appreciate those guys. Obviously, I didn't get to say my proper goodbyes, but I think they know how I feel about them and vice versa.
Jack, who signed as a free agent with the Cavs last summer, hasn’t had quite the impact of a season ago, when he was a serious frontrunner for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award.
Through 63 games, Jack is averaging 8.6 points and 3.8 assists on 39 percent shooting in 27 minutes a game, per Basketball-Reference.com. That marks a significant drop-off from a year ago, when Jack tallied 12.9 points and 5.6 assists on 45 percent shooting in just over 29 minutes per contest.
Such a decline, coupled with his now and former teams’ divergent playoff prospects, must undoubtedly color Jack’s perspective on a Bay Area return.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Before the season began, ESPN’s Bradford Doolittle called Jack the “perfect” fit for a Cleveland team he believed would be a pleasant surprise:
After a summer of augmenting the roster with high-grade talent, and bringing back an old coach in Mike Brown to refurbish Cleveland's on-court emphasis, the new-look Cavaliers are ready to establish an identity all their own.
Needless to say, it hasn’t quite worked out that way.
The good news is that, with another three years remaining on his current deal, Jack has plenty of time to reassert himself as a key cog on a winning team.
In the meantime, he’ll have to make do with remembering the one he left behind.