Jarrett Jack walked onto the Madison Square Garden court carrying a black trash bag, went to the far end, and pointed to some young fans. The Knicks’ veteran point guard handed them sneakers.
Jack didn’t know them. This is just something he started doing about five years ago, to thank fans for their support and make the young ones smile.
“These fans who come here and spend their money,” Jack said. “They work hard for their money. They decide to come here and watch us for whatever reason. That’s just a way for me to try and show my appreciation.
“I try to seek out kids that are super respectful because there are some people who think they’re entitled to a whole bunch of things when they come to games. We got boatloads of sneakers back here and usually we don’t do anything with them. Why not go out there and make a kid’s day, make a kid smile. I think it’s a pretty cool thing to do.”
Knicks fans haven’t had much to smile about the last several months — or years for that matter. But Jack’s act of kindness and unselfishness is commendable.
Jack credits his father for the idea. He said his dad takes Jack’s old shoes or ones he rarely wears and gives them to people who are less fortunate.
“He sends them to Sierra Leone, to people that’s underprivileged and don’t have shoes,” Jack said. “I’m going to give him the credit on this one.”
Jack, 34, deserves credit for being a consummate professional with the Knicks and a model for the young players.
After starting 56 games, Jack was taken out of the rotation after the All-Star break so the Knicks could develop and evaluate young guards Frank Ntilikina, Emmanuel Mudiay and Trey Burke. But Jack continued to work and keep himself ready.
When Jeff Hornacek needed him due to various injuries, Jack stepped up and had 18 points and seven assists and just one turnover in 26 minutes off the bench in Saturday’s loss to the Bucks. It was only the third time in the last 21 games that Jack played.
Jack was brought in to help mentor Ntilikina, and then was asked to do the same for Burke and Mudiay. He hopes his actions speak louder than his words.
“The situation’s been what it’s been since All-Star break, like a month-and-a-half,” Jack said. “I hope they see me still getting my work in. I hope they see me not letting time or moments go by when I’m just sitting there, kind of biding my time.
“Hopefully my actions and deeds speak more than actually verbally telling people and whatever. Even if I didn’t come out and shoot the ball extremely well I still thought my preparation allowed me to come out here and have an impact of what that was.”
Jack said he still tries to counsel and help the young guards, but he’s also pulled back a little to give them their room to grow.
“I try to not be super in somebody’s ear all the time. Anybody can become annoying,” Jack said. “I try to allow them to hit the learning curve themselves. You don’t want somebody holding your hand the entire time. If I see something I might try to dart in and say a couple words and bag back. That’s the only way you’re going to allow somebody to grow.
“If somebody kept the training wheels on your bike the whole time you would never know what it’s like when they take them off. Sometimes you got to let them balance on their own, push them down the hill a little bit and see what happens.”