Jarrett Jack was already dressed in a designer suit before the media entered the Cleveland Cavaliers' locker room for postgame questions on Wednesday. Despite helping his new team to an opening night victory over the Brooklyn Nets, however, he was in no rush to celebrate.
Like the CEO of a $25 million brand, Jack stood patiently between the lockers of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters politely prepared to offer the required sound bytes. The game was over, but Jack's responsibility to show this young group how a successful veteran carries himself wasn't. His demeanor was refreshing, unique and startling all at the same time in a locker room that lacked a similar presence over the last three seasons.
This guy, I thought in my best Jon Gruden voice while moving through the swarms of media, is a certifiable professional. The fringe-NBA players who used to fill out this roster are long gone and they've been replaced by a freakin boss with 612 games of NBA experience on his resume.
“I try to keep my temperature at an even keel," Jack would tell the media on Wednesday. "It's something that I learned from Chauncey Billups and Jason Kidd.”
That even keel helped Jack and the Cavs second unit erase an early first quarter deficit before gaining control of the game. But more than working to secure one regular-season win, Cleveland's second unit demonstrated reason to believe they will eventually become a strength for this team under Jack's direction.
“That’s one of the advantages you get from not starting," Jack would add. "You can survey the game from the side. You try to be a spectator, to see what’s necessary on the floor during the course of the game and try to bring as much as you can.”
The talented veteran came off the bench to finish with 12 points, three assists and three rebounds in 23 minutes of work during his Cavaliers debut. More importantly, though, he also helped his second group to a 34-28 advantage over the Nets' reserves in a game decided by four points. This was with two players we can expect to improve significantly in Andrew Bynum and Anthony Bennett combining for only five points in 23 minutes.
Alongside Jack for the duration of the year, Bynum, Bennett, C.J. Miles, Alonzo Gee, Tyler Zeller, Sergey Karasev and whoever else comes off that bench will be in good hands. The Cavaliers second unit is now under new management and this veteran leader is all business.
If you picked the 'Under' for Anthony Bennett you were right
I set the over-under line for total points scored by Anthony Bennett on Wednesday at 11.5. I received 46 entries, 19 overs and 27 unders. Here's a couple people who picked the under, I'll try to post them all next time.
— GodHatesCleveSports (@MikeStein1000) October 30, 2013
@BowersCLE Under, if Zeller and Bynum play, Bennett will be hard pressed to get quality minutes
— Dan Desai (@CLE_Sports88) October 30, 2013
I'm not worried at all about Bennett's debut in the event you were wondering. There was a whole lot going on in that game for AB–first NBA game ever, tons of family in the house, Usher was there, Andrew Bynum played, lot to sort through.
Expect the big guy to take a step forward tonight on the road against the Charlotte Bobcats and keep building. If he can knock a couple shots down early that could go a long way to settling him in for a productive night.
(Photo: David Richard, USA TODAY Sports)