NEW YORK -- Jarrett Jack never attended an NBA player's basketball camp growing up, but he's more than happy to host one now.
The 32-year-old veteran point guard was clearly enjoying himself as he joked around with youngsters and took some shots at the NYC Basketball Kids Summer Camp on Friday afternoon.
"This is always cool," Jack said. "Coming in here and watching these kids, they could be doing anything. They could be at home or running around and playing Pokémon, but they've decided to come in here and pursue something they have a knack for, which is playing basketball, and that's the thing we all have in common. I remember when I was a young kid running around, just attempting to be in a facility like this. I never saw a pro ballplayer growing up. Not once. Not until I was 16."
Jack, now a member of the Atlanta Hawks, took a few minutes out of his busy day of fun for a Q&A with ESPN.com:
ESPN: Last season with Brooklyn, you tore your ACL in January and then had to undergo season-ending surgery. How would you describe what that was like?
Jack: It sucked. It was the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life. I’ve been able to work very hard each and every day getting back now and being able to do stuff on the court, and that’s kind of what’s been giving me peace of mind lately. But I’m just looking forward to a new start with the Hawks, a team that’s been in the playoffs the last few years and has a bunch of new faces. We’ve got Big Dwight [Howard] down there now, so I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do with the team we’ve put together.
ESPN: Why did you decide to sign with the Hawks? What was your process like in free agency?
Jack: There were a few teams interested. Considering that I live in Atlanta, I played college ball down there [at Georgia Tech] and the people of Georgia are familiar with me, I thought it just made sense on a lot of fronts. I was flattered that they called and wanted to take a chance on me, knowing that I’m coming off knee surgery, but I’m willing to prove to everybody that I’m more than capable of withstanding the physical challenges of the season and just contributing to the team.
ESPN: Some have suggested you may miss the start of the season. Where are you at in your recovery process?
Jack: I wouldn’t believe that. But I believe I’m probably a month out from participating fully in everything. I’m already on the court and going through drills, pretty much doing everything except for going against other people at 100 percent.
ESPN: How did you get through the last seven months to be in the position you are now?
Jack: I think the only way you can deal with it or cope with it is to have a positive mindset, because it’s a grind. I was rehabbing three to four hours a day, and some days were better than others. It got monotonous at times, doing the same thing every day for four months and still being barely able to walk. I couldn’t do anything on the court, and these little exercises that I’m used to doing without thinking about it, now I couldn’t even straighten [my knee], so I had to deal with that part of it. But I would talk to people like Lou Williams [who had to do ACL rehab himself] and other people in the rehab facility that were a little ahead of me, so I could see it gets better.
ESPN: What did you think about Atlanta losing Al Horford to Boston but bringing in Howard?
Jack: They replaced one All-Star with another. They’re two different types of big men -- Dwight’s more of your traditional 7-footer, while Al is more of that floor spacer hybrid center, so to speak. Maybe power forward is his more natural position, but he’s been tremendous at the 5.
ESPN: Dennis Schroder is being handed the keys as the Hawks' starting point guard. How would you evaluate his game?
Jack: I like him. I think the biggest tool he uses is a lot people call him a bit of a pest. He gets under a lot of people’s skin, but he goes out there and competes, and that’s something everyone can respect about him. He’s a very talented kid, fast and crafty.
ESPN: When you arrived in Brooklyn, the Nets had guys like Kevin Garnett, Joe Johnson and Deron Williams. Now those players are all gone, and the franchise is rebuilding. What do you think about the state of the franchise?
Jack: It happens to basically every franchise at some point in time. Shoot, think about when the Bulls had Michael Jordan. Next thing you know, they had a young team with Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler. It happens. That’s just the nature of the business. Nobody really stays atop the mountain for a long time. The Spurs have been the exception to the rule, but everybody goes through a bit of a transition period, and when they do put it together I’m sure it’s going to be fun.
Jack: I think when you’re a free agent, everybody should be selfish with their happiness. We don’t get the luxury of getting to pick where we want to play [when we get drafted]. That’s the one luxury in college you don’t have in the NBA [to start your career].
Honestly, what I thought was going to happen was he was going to sign back [in Oklahoma City] for one year and then him and Russ were going to play it out and decide what they were going to do collectively, but he decided that this is the best place for him in his heart of hearts, and you can’t get mad at a man for going to where in his heart he thought he should be. He’s getting a lot of backlash from it, but that’s what he felt, and how can you get mad at another person’s decision? It is what it is.