Big stage beckons Jack

MIKE GANTER, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:08 AM ET

Chris Bosh speaks longingly about getting back to the big stage.

He hungers for the NBA playoffs. Swears hell do whatever it takes to get there.

But a day after Bosh made crystal clear his own feelings about the playoffs along comes his Georgia Tech teammate Jarrett Jack and you wonder - as bad as Bosh wants it, does Jarrett Jack want it even a little bit more?

No, this isnt a competition. Just an observation.

Bosh has been there twice in fact, a first-round casualty both times in his six seasons in the NBA. Watching the playoffs from his couch last year motivated Bosh like nothing else could.

Jack, on the other hand, has never reached the playoffs in his four seasons in the Association.

So if Bosh hungers for a return to the dance, Jack salivates at just the mention of it.

Its unbelievable, Jack says of the sense of anticipation that this might be the year he gets that playoff experience he covets. Im smiling because of where we are right now, but I know there is still a lot of work to be done. A lot can happen in 23 games. I feel like Im looking at my goal in the face. We just have to stay focused and if were able to get into the playoffs, Id be very, very excited.

Jack says thoughts of that first playoff appearance are never far from his mind.

Every day, said Jack. Even my Mom is going crazy texting me Playoffs, every day. We are a real basketball-oriented family. We take the game very seriously. We all watch playoff games My Mom, my Dad, my brother were all in front of the TV watching basketball. For me to get an opportunity to be a part of the NBA playoffs is a dream in itself.

So far that dream has been limited to spectator status although not just in front of the family TV.

For me it would be a surreal experience to actually go through a playoff series, Jack said. I mean in the summer a lot of guys go on vacation, they go to Hawaii. Me personally, I go to playoff games. Thats like my vacation. Thats what I love to do. Ive been to New Orleans supporting Chris Paul when they were in the playoffs. I live in Atlanta so I went to a lot of their games. Washington when they had their battles with Cleveland in the first round. I went to the (conference) finals last year with Cleveland/Orlando. Those things really get me going. Just being in that atmosphere is really fun so I can only imagine what being a part of it first hand is like.

Jack would have to double his current playoff-less career span to be even in the same neighbourhood as the all-time unlucky loser in the NBA. That would be Atlantas Jamal Crawford who is all but a sure thing to get his first playoff action in this, his 11th season in the Association.

Atlanta is 10 1/2 games clear of missing the playoffs while the Raptors margin for error is significantly less.

Jack expects this season will go right down to the wire. The Raps were in fifth in the conference heading into the Thursday night schedule but were also just three games out of ninth and another seat by the television for the playoffs.

Its going to be a pretty close matchup coming down to the end, Jack admitted.

mike.ganter@sunmedia.ca


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