"My mission is to kill; whether it's the Heat, whether it's the Lakers. Hopefully both. That's my mission, and that's what I'm here to do," Terry said on Tuesday shortly before teeing off at the Fifth Annual USI Shamrock Classic which was hosted by the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation.
That's one way of putting it.
This wouldn't be the first time the sixth-man assassin played an integral role in a championship run, so the Celtics have every reason to believe he'll do the same for them. And just as his 2010-11 Mavericks were hardly title favorites from day one, Boston enters the season trailing the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat in most title discussions.
And as improved as these Celtics are, few would dispute that the Lakers and Heat appear to have an edge—at least to some extent, and at least at this very moment.
That's precisely why a cold-blooded assassin is needed.
But Terry's comments are almost as dangerous as his pull-up jumper, and this time for the Celtics. Before responding with reminders about the importance of competitive fire and all that good stuff, you should remember that Boston already has plenty.
There's enough edge in Kevin Garnett to go around the entire Eastern Conference. This team isn't short on passion.
Beyond the question of necessity, though, there's the more important question of prudence.
Is it really a good idea for Terry to be barking up this tree?
If you're selling tickets, of course it is. Regardless of what JET contributes on the floor, he's one heck of a marketing gimmick. In case the Celtics and Lakers didn't already have enough of a rivalry going, Terry will fix that in short order.
And as Ray Allen's replacement, he personifies the jilted lover's new catch. Should the Celtics and Heat again butt heads in the postseason, the opportunity for Terry to outperform Allen and make him regret his defection would instantly rank as one of the most intriguing subplots.
Apparently, Terry is already making sure of just that, announcing his intent well in advance.
While such fodder is well-suited to drumming up hype, it also risks firing up a couple of clubs who aren't likely to be intimidated. Does anyone really think L.A.'s savvy veterans and Miami's big egos are in the least bit phased?
Herein lies the dangerous part.
Terry's comments are going to end up on a locker-room chalkboard at some point, and it won't be Boston's. This is the kind of provocation that provokes in all the wrong ways—just ask the Indiana Pacers.
With a none-too-subtle chip on on their shoulders, the Pacers at times seemed more concerned with the optics of the semifinals than just doing their jobs and winning games. Danny Granger was getting in faces, Lance Stephenson (who?) was taunting LeBron James and head coach Frank Vogel was calling out Miami's floppiness.
It all made for great entertainment.
Chances are it wound up distracting the wrong team though. The Heat appeared ever-so-briefly flustered in the series only to wrap said series up with renewed focus and the kind of business-like attitude that eluded Indiana.
We can only speculate about the psychology underlying such a turnaround, but no one would be surprised if that renewed focus were the product (at least in part) of the Heat taking umbrage with Indiana's tough-guy sensibilities.
Terry's incendiary remarks run a similar risk.
While Miami and Los Angeles are more likely to respond with a cold-blooded professionalism than commensurate theatrics, the other problem is that Terry is implicitly creating expectations for Boston. The Celtics probably have a better shot at the title than many outside Boston think, but that's the last thing anyone inside the locker room should be worried about.
A good quarterback always tells the media he's thinking about next week's game, not the Super Bowl.
Terry should do the same.
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