At last week’s Reebok Breakout Challenge in Philadelphia, Bleacher Report landed an exclusive interview with one of the newest members of the Boston Celtics: former NBA Sixth Man of the Year Jason Terry.
Unlike many NBA stars who take an extended break from conditioning once the season is over, Terry has been hard at work getting both his mind and his body right for next year.
“Whether you’re a veteran like me or a high school athlete, the most important thing you can do is keep your body healthy,” said Terry. “And that’s why I love the new Reebok ‘Sport of Fitness’ campaign which is all about empowering people to be fit for life.”
Terry has taken the tenets of the “Sport of Fitness” campaign to heart: In fact, the 2011 NBA champion was in the midst of a workout at Philadelphia University when he agreed to sit down for a few minutes with Bleacher Report.
Bleacher Report: Last year at this time, the NBA was in the midst of a lockout...How does it feel going into the summer without worrying about all of the off-court stuff?
Jason Terry: Well, there are still some concerns. Obviously, with the new CBA, there are still a lot of concerns from the owners’ perspective on how they’re going to manipulate that salary cap and circumvent it and not come underneath of it…it’s tough. And as a player this year, I’m a free agent, so there concern on my end. Obviously, you want to get the best deal possible for yourself, but teams just don’t want to spend that money for fear of being in that luxury tax. So it’s a good thing that we’re playing basketball and we’re back, but the tough part about it is the business of basketball.
B/R: Let’s go back to the time before it was a business…I read that Slick Watts was your Phys. Ed. teacher back in school. What was it like having gym class taught by a former NBA star?
Terry: It was a dream come true. It felt like Christmas every day for me in third grade when I walked in and saw my idol: Slick Watts. I’m a huge Seattle SuperSonics fan obviously, growing up in the area, and the reason why I wear the headband today is because of Slick.
B/R: Speaking of the headband, you lost the Reebok CrossFit Challenge against Jameer Nelson, and you had to play a game without your headband and socks…
Terry: (laughs) Never again! But no…hopefully, we can do it again this year, we’ll have another challenge that’s similar, and hopefully, I’ll come out on the winning end. But that was fun, it was a great experience, the fans got up for it, and Reebok supported us in our efforts. And [Jameer] came out on the winning end, but I vow to get him back [this] year.
B/R: Did you feel a little out of sorts in that game when you didn’t have your headband and socks on?
Terry: I was miserable! I’m very superstitious, so before the game, I’m running around nervous, palms sweating…and then as the game started and I came off of the bench, I just felt naked. I mean, it just felt like I didn’t have any clothes on, and I was having a rough go of it. I come in at halftime and [Dallas Mavericks owner] Mark Cuban says “Hey, man…put the socks on, put the headband on—the bet is over.” I come back out, I have a killer second half and actually closed out the game for us in the fourth quarter.
B/R: Let's talk about superstitions for a minute...Is it true that you sleep in the shorts of the opposing team before the game?
Terry: Yes. It started back in college in 1997 on our way to the national championship [Terry was a member of the 1997 Arizona Wildcats championship team]. Mike Bibby—who was my teammate at the time—and I slept in our uniforms the night before the championship game, and we ended up winning. So it’s something that I continue to do. Once I got to the pros, instead of doing my uniform, [based on] whomever we’re playing, I’d wear their team’s shorts. I’ve got friends on all 30 teams, so it was easy work. And if I didn’t have a friend on a team, I just give the equipment guy a couple hundred [dollars], and he’ll slide you the shorts.
B/R: After you beat the Heat in the finals, Mark Cuban hosted an after-party down in South Beach. How crazy was that night and did it live up to the expectations that you had beforehand?
Terry: Not really. And the only reason why I say that is that we won that national championship at Arizona, and that was crazy. Unbelievable. At that time in my life, being that age, having a feat like that was incredible. But this time, it was more of a…sigh of relief. Because I had worked so hard up to that point…the other disappointment in ’05-06, and then finally getting back to that point, it was a big weight that was lifted off of my shoulders. So the celebration really, it was like “Yeah, we did it.” But I went to my room and prayed…that’s the way I celebrated.
B/R: And after you won the title, you had a chance to visit President Obama in the White House...
Terry: Now that was probably in the top two or three on my list of things that I’ve accomplished in my life. I met [former President Bill] Clinton back in ’97, but meeting the first black president, it just meant a lot—not only to me, but to all of my family. When my grandmother texted me and said that she was proud that I was her grandson and that I met the first black president…it just made her day. And I think that was big for me and my family.
B/R: You played with Dallas for eight years, but you’re going to sign with Boston this summer...Are you surprised that Dallas wasn't more aggressive in trying to sign you?
Terry: Well again, you’ve got to look at the new CBA. For me? Yes, I was very shocked. I mean, I thought I’d be a Maverick for life. Hopefully one day, I can go back and work in the organization, or maybe at the end of my career go back and coach or sit on the end of the bench or something—you never know. I’ve got a great relationship [with the Mavericks], Cuban was a great owner, the city of Dallas is obviously a huge supporter of me…but it’s time to turn the page. I’m going to a winning team, a team in Boston that has rich tradition and heritage, and they’ve got a championship pedigree. They’ve got a great coach, three Hall of Famers, and I just believe that for me, it’s a perfect fit.
B/R: And with that coach and those Hall of Famers, what role do you see yourself playing on the Celtics this year?
Terry: It’s going to be very similar to what I did in Dallas. Come in and be the best sixth man in the league, provide that instant spark that they’ll need night in and night out, and get that arena really rocking—that’s my job. And spiritual leader also, along with Kevin Garnett.
B/R: Boston has a good chance of making the finals—any thoughts on getting another tattoo this year of the Larry O'Brien Trophy?
Terry: I was thinking about a black leprechaun holding a trophy…holding the Larry O’Brien. I think that’s it.