Jason Eugene Terry has earned some liberties around the Dallas Mavericks organization. He’s the second-longest-tenured player on the team and has long been a pillar of the Mavs’ offensive attack, scoring 9,750 points (going into Friday’s game at Orlando) since his arrival in the blindside steal of him from Atlanta in exchange for Antoine Walker.
Jet is also a reporter’s dream, regularly offering juicy sound bites whenever a microphone is placed before him. Often they are harmless expressions of braggadocio, but on the occasions when he truly does raise eyebrows, it is often shrugged off as ‘Jet being Jet’ by most in the organization and those who cover it. Including DB.com. By now, we are desensitized to comments that would be seen as incendiary coming from anyone else.
But it’s just Jet and it’s usually harmless. Dirk’s even instructed us to quit bothering to quote his nonsensical little buddy.
However, Terry on Thursday inserted his golden-shoed foot into his mouth, exceeded even his own already-relaxed standards. Still bristling at not being offered a contract extension before the season, Terry announced his candidacy to become the newest veteran seeking to play with the Miami Heat.
"Miami is definitely a title contender. For sure," Terry told FOX Sports Florida before Dallas' 106-85 loss on Thursday. “No question, they need a veteran shooter, a guy who can score besides LeBron (James) and (Dwyane Wade), and... I'm a guy that's been in this league 13 years, 15 points a night, easy. Off the bench or the starting lineup, it doesn't matter. So I think I'd be an asset to them."
Incendiary as those comments are, you probably glazed over the most important part of that quote. That’s right; Terry said these comments before the game. It would be one thing for a world-class competitor, still in the heat of the moment to fire off an ill-conceived comment before giving pause to consider the significance of his words. Terry was in no such state of duress. Further, it was not just a lone comment. He took it further when asked if it would be strange to play for Miami given the emotionally-charged history between the Mavericks and the Heat.
"Not at all," said Terry. "That jersey has a logo on it. It says, 'NBA.' No matter what team it is, it doesn't matter."
There are several things wrong with this, and we will detail those in a moment. But first, the biggest question: Is Jet unfocused enough for those comments to have impacted him in Miami, when he shot 1-of-10? Would there be a carryover in Orlando?
We’ll never know the answer to the first and we have a definitive answer to the second. Yes, folks, Jet is still yapping -- though this time more constructively.
““By watching Orlando all year long, we knew they were a team that relinquished a lot of leads just by the way they play,” said Jet, who scored 10 points in the fourth quarter and 17 in the game to help Dallas overcome what had been a 15-point deficit late in the third. "They are either going inside or they are shooting 3s. When you live by the 3, you die by it.”
A roster-full of Mavs were pivotal in helping kidd the Magic, from Dirk's 28 (and the One-Legged Euro LeanBack to win it) to Ian's massive block just before that to Delonte, gobbling up not only Roddy B's minutes but also Jason Kidd's ... and the wrassling of Brendan Haywood against Dwight ... and Trix' terrific all-around line ... and Carlisle's Hack-a-Howard routine that allowed Dallas to win at the free-throw line ... Oh, and thank you, Stan Van Gundy, for designing a play to allow Hedo to try Orlando's game-winner. The only chance that had of going in came on Ryan Anderson's offensive put-back, which didn't go. Otherwise? In the last two months, Hedo attempts five treys a game and makes one of them.
(Hedo was also the poor SOB trying to guard The UberMan on the game-winner. Poor SOB.)
So it wasn't just Jet. But it was "Jet being Jet'' in a positive way. And yeah, that includes times he griped at Haywood for touching a ball in the cylinder and appeared to be cussing out Marion at the end of the third when Jet had no one to pass to.
Now, because Dallas won to move to 30-23 (and elbowing with the Clippers for the fourth and fifth slots in the West) does Jet return to “free-reign’’ status when it comes to knuckleheaded comments because he was a key piece in a big win?
One would think that a player who clearly enjoys being beloved would have a bit more situational awareness than to flippantly announce his candidacy to play for one his squad’s bitterest rivals. Instead of choosing the public-perception of loyalty, he chose controversy.
Terry is one of only four players to have played in both the 2006 and 2011 Finals (Nowitzki, Wade and Haslem are the others). He has been at the epicenter of the franchise’s darkest moment and its finest hour, both taking place in Miami. He knows the significance of what Dallas-Miami means. He knows his role in that saga and he knows how nauseating it would be for most Mavericks fans to see him in another uniform, particularly Heat black and red.
He is a candidate to have his Mavericks jersey retired to the rafters of the AAC. He has been that good and meant that much to this team during its golden age. He clearly doesn’t believe the appreciation shown him (measured in contract years and dollars) is in line with that.
However, perhaps his comments were only meant for an audience of one: Mark Cuban.
"They didn't even lowball me," Terry said back in Miami. "They didn't want to bring anybody back from last year… (Dallas’ front office is) clearing the cap as low as we can and this summer we're going after Dwight Howard, which hasn't happened, and Deron Williams, which they still have an opportunity… My main goal was to come back and retire a Maverick," Terry said. "After no extension this past offseason, I figure it may be time for me to move on. But you never know… I would love to (continue) in a Maverick uniform, don't get me wrong. But we'll see what happens… They said they want me back. But you can say all you want, you got to show me. Like Jerry Maguire said, 'Show me the money.'"
We listen and watch Jet and the Golden-Shoed 1-of-10 on Thursday and it is maddening. What to make of these incendiary comments? Where is the focus? Is it a negotiating ploy? The half-baked thoughts of a player known to regularly drop lines like these? A sincere desire? A sign of mutual disrespect and a rift between players and the front office? The dark underbelly of a bold personnel strategy?
Or is it just Jet once again being Jet, bring along with it the occasional frustration?
And then we listen and watch Jet on Headband/Non-Headband Friday as he determinedly steals the ball from Orlando and goes coast-to-coast for a critical and-1 layup in the fourth quarter and it is … what? Gladdening ?
Rick Carlisle calls him a “rare breed of cat’’ for his willingness to be The Man. He's a different breed in other ways, too. Jet is wildly superstitious yet he lost a bet during an FIT Challenge (an NBA promotional bit) to Jameer Nelson that resulted in Jason playing his first NBA game without the headband and high socks.
That lasted a half. Jet welched on the deal. So Jameer won the bet and Jason, properly clad for the second half, won the game.
Maybe there are limits to Jet’s Mandom and maybe that’s the reality you live with Terry. To enjoy his daggers against the Lakers last spring, you must endure his woes on the road this season. To benefit from his bravado in calling out LeBron James and then outplaying him in the Finals, you must suffer through punches to Michael Finley’s groin. To see the trademark Jason Terry ‘wings’ after a big fourth-quarter shot, you must survive the 1-for-10 shooting nights.
Jet acting like a nut in Miami on a Thursday and then acting like The Man on a Friday in Orlando?
That’s just Jet being Jet.