I rule the local playground
Join Date: Jul 2006
Chris Paul & Jarret Jack's friendship
Quite an interesting story (IMO). New Orleans and Blazers playing on Friday night, could potentially be quite a good game the way the Blazers have started the season so far.
Jack and Paul: Friends up to a point
The former ACC rivals will have their first reunion tonight since Jarrett Jack became the Blazers' starting point guard
Friday, November 10, 2006
They were rivals in the Atlantic Coast Conference -- two top point guards at two of the top programs in the best college conference -- but a funny thing happened along the way to Jarrett Jack and Chris Paul.
They became the best of friends.
And so, too, did their parents.
So when Jack and the Trail Blazers take on Paul and the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets tonight at the Rose Garden, it will not only be a battle of two of the NBA's more promising second-year point guards. It also will continue a bond formed between the two from when they were teenagers.
"The funny thing is, it's like Jarrett and I are linked together for life," Paul said.
The connection started when Paul, a 13-year-old prodigy from North Carolina, attended an AAU game that featured the 14-year-old Jack.
"I remember just hearing about him all the time as a kid, and so I went and watched him, and there he was, with his big, bald head, just killing everybody," Paul said.
Paul introduced himself to Jack after the game, but Jack said he doesn't remember the first meeting. It wasn't until the two squared off in college -- Paul at Wake Forest and Jack at Georgia Tech -- that they exchanged phone numbers and the friendship grew.
Eventually, that extended to the players' parents, who met each other at a Georgia Tech-Wake Forest game.
"We just developed a good relationship watching our young men grow up together and try to achieve their goals," said Jarrett's mother, Louise. "I think both Jarrett and Chris are alike: They are respectful, honest, hard-working, don't forget to put God first, and they don't take anything for granted."
And tonight, two proud parents will watch their sons play at the Rose Garden: Louise is visiting from Washington, D.C., and Robin Paul, Chris' mother, has traveled from North Carolina.
"I'm sure they will be chatting it up pretty good in the stands," Jack said.
Added Paul: "My mom is always one of the biggest fans at the game. And when I would play at Georgia Tech, I would look in the crowd for Jack's mom and make sure I waved to her. I think we all connect because we all have very similar values and we are all family-oriented."
Amid the developing friendship, the two heralded point guards engaged in some memorable college games, setting the stage for tonight's meeting, their first since Jack this season became the Blazers' starting point guard.
"It's definitely a special game," said Paul, who was the unanimous rookie of the year last season. "But in no way is it a one-on-one game -- it's about our teams and winning. Hopefully, we will get the win, because if we don't, I won't hear the end of it from Jarrett."
The outcome of tonight's game between teams that have better-than-expected records figures to give Jack and Paul something new to discuss. Already, they have a raging debate regarding who got the best of whom during their college careers.
The statistics are decidedly in Jack's favor -- he averaged 18.5 points and 5.0 assists in four games against Paul, who was held to averages of 8.3 points, 5.3 assists and shot 8 of 34.
"I did more than hold my own," Jack said with a smile.
But Paul said that regardless of the head-to-head statistics, the matchup was a push, because each team won two of the four games.
"No, he didn't get the best of me, because at the end of the day it's about wins and losses," Paul said. "But probably some of my worst games in college came against Jarrett Jack."
In college, Jack said he used his size (6 feet 3, 197 pounds) on offense to post the smaller Paul (6-0, 175) and relied on a specially crafted defensive scheme that used a forward to shadow Paul, helping neutralize Paul's offensive talents.
Paul definitely had the better first season in the NBA -- one of the best rookie campaigns ever by a point guard, averaging 16.1 points, 7.8 assists and 5.1 rebounds. Jack said his college success against Paul helped cement his confidence that he could excel at the NBA level.
"He has this great, consistent year last year, and everybody is saying he might be the next best point guard since Magic Johnson," Jack said. "So when I look at somebody like that, who I think I competed pretty well against coming onto this stage, then I know I can go out and do the same thing."
Jack hasn't achieved the NBA success of Paul, but he is starting to emerge. He is averaging 12 points, 6.2 assists and 2.6 steals, but his turnovers (3.0 a game) are high as he has had trouble protecting the ball against pressure.
"I think Jarrett has been playing well; I'm one of his biggest fans, to tell you the truth," Paul said.
Paul, meanwhile, is continuing his path to greatness: The Hornets (4-1) lost Thursday, becoming the last NBA team to incur its first defeat, and Paul is averaging 20.8 points, 10.6 assists and 4.2 rebounds.
Last season, Jack had a much smaller role with the Blazers than Paul had with the Hornets. But tonight, each figures to have a big say in the result.
"If it comes down to a battle between Jarrett and Chris Paul, I'll take Jarrett," said Jack's coach at Georgia Tech, Paul Hewitt. "I still think Jarrett and Deron Williams are the best pro guards from that draft, as far as being able to lead a team and win a championship."
In the meantime, there figures to be a mini-reunion tonight, with two players who met as teenagers and their moms.
"When I see them, I'll just say, 'Look at them, back together again,' " Louise Jack said. "I will feel so proud and happy. It's just like they are blessed. But they don't let it go to their heads. They never forget where they came from."