Certain players are great teammates because they put up huge numbers. Other players are great teammates because they’re winners. Jason Terry is a player who falls into the latter category.
Of course, JET is no slouch on the hardwood. He boasts career averages of nearly 16 points and 4.5 dimes while shooting a respectable 45 percent from the field, 38 percent from three, and 85 percent from the charity stripe. In fact, the 36-year-old had three seasons in which he averaged over 19 points per night, and did we mention that he has started less than 60 percent of his 1,200 games in the League?
“I don’t feel old, but I don’t feel young either. It is what it is,” Terry told SLAM. “I feel like my experience is needed out here and I’m valuable to the team. I can still compete at a high level and I can still perform.”
Not only can Terry still perform, but he’s always been able to perform (and win) throughout his career. He led Franklin (WA) High to back-to-back state titles. Terry then joined a filthy backcourt with Mike Bibby and Michael Dickerson at Arizona. Terry did what was asked of him during his junior campaign en route to the 1998 National Championship. Then once Bibby bounced to the League, Terry flourished. Averaging 22 points, 5 dimes and 3 steals as a senior, the articulate lead guard found himself drafted in the lottery (10th overall) by the Atlanta Hawks. After establishing himself as ATL’s best player, he was dealt to Dallas in 2004, where Terry teamed with his current head coach Jason Kidd.
Winning a title with Kidd (and famously getting the Larry O’Brien trophy tatted on his arm), he forged a strong relationship with former teammate turned head coach. While they were only together for four seasons before they each went in different directions (Kidd to the Knicks; Terry to the Celtics), a high level of trust and mutual respect was built.
“It’s going to be very special. Not only because I played with him, but because he’s been a mentor and a friend to me since I’ve met him,” Terry explained. “When he spoke in Dallas, people listened.”
And while Terry is happy to be reunited with Kidd in Brooklyn, his return to the court has been delayed by a few minor injuries.
“I’m a gamer. I never was a big practice player, but Jason Kidd wants me out there to get the rhythm,” he said. “I haven’t played full-court basketball since the Playoffs, so I definitely want to get out there.”
Terry added, “It’s definitely frustrating. Watching these guys get after it with live action, scrimmage live, condition—that’s what I want. I’m conditioning like they are, but I want the live action. I want to hit a three, fire off, talk shit and all that. That’s just where I’m at with the competitive nature in me. I also want to be out there with my brothers. They’re grinding, they’re going through it, and I’m ready for it.”
With a potential starting lineup of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Brook Lopez, the Nets undoudtedly have the most talented starting five in the League on paper. But the bench of Terry, Reggie Evans, Andrei Kirilenko, Andray Blatche, Shaun Livingston and ex-European stars Mirza Teletovic and Alan Anderson gives them one of the deepest second units, too.
“I haven’t looked at everyone’s roster around the League, but I definitely like the [bench] we have,” Terry said. “We’re very talented, very skilled, and it gives us the ability to play multiple lineups. I definitely love our bench.”
“It’s going to be very fun to lead the bench. We have a lot of talent, both young and old. Chemistry is not going to be an issue because the roles are going to be well-defined by coach,” he added.
While the team will be without Kidd for the first two games of the regular season, Terry and the rest of Brooklyn’s experienced roster will step up in his absence.
“Our motto this year is ‘Whatever it takes to hold that trophy,’” Terry said. “I’m still a coach at heart too, so when I’m not on the court, I’m still helping out where I can.”