Ever since I can remember, starting when I covered Jason Terry and the Arizona Wildcats basketball team for the Arizona Daily Star from 1996 to 1998, Terry was never the cookie-cutter type.
Terry did things his way, walked his own path and said whatever was on his mind.
Terry's habit of sleeping with his Arizona uniform and those knee-high "CATS" socks the night before games became legendary.
I remember that during Arizona's two-week trip to Australia in 1997, a couple of months after winning the national title, Terry was one of the more vocal players about wanting to head back home early. Lute Olson, who valued the foreign tours when he coached, would have none of that.
When I was within earshot of Terry during the trip, he said he hoped he never had to play professionally in Australia. He didn't like it there and made that obvious in one of the player postcards he delivered to me to print in the newspaper. This came after Olson told the Wildcats to forget about leaving. Terry stuck to his opinion, no matter what the Hall of Fame coach thought.
Appearing Thursday on CBS Radio's The Doug Gottlieb Show, Terry, being the non-conformist that he is, took a different stance about embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling than other NBA players have. Sterling's racist comments have rocked the NBA in the last month.
LeBron James and Magic Johnson, two of the game's most successful and popular personalities, each commented last week that players will boycott the NBA if Sterling is still the Clippers owner next season. James indicated to teammate Roger Mason Jr. he will not play if that is the case (although Mason later retracted these comments).
"Are you really going to let what one person does dictate what you do, and what you've worked so hard for, the rest of your life? … I think that's an extreme,” Terry told Gottlieb. "I don't know, man. I think at the end of the day, it's just basketball and I think that in the history of the United States, there are a lot of people who are racist and share those views, some openly, some privately, and that's just the way they feel.
"I think you must continue to go on and live your life according to your morals and your values. If somebody doesn't like you or like what you stand for, hey, the hell with them.”
Jason Eugene Terry, nicknamed “JET” because of his initials, has remained in flight in his career, never grounded, despite an impoverished upbringing in Seattle that included troubled times and tragedy. For most of his career, he has excelled in the role of sixth man.
He is near the end of an NBA career that was hampered by a knee injury last year. He played 35 games with Brooklyn but was shelved after a February 19 trade to Sacramento.
Terry has his college education to fall back on. He never gave up on school despite leaving Arizona 15 years ago. Last week, he earned his degree in Social Behavior and Human Understanding at Arizona, a school that has yet to retire his No. 31 because he received illegal benefits from an agent his senior season.
The Pac-12 presidents must vote for Terry to receive that honor. Perhaps now that Terry has earned a degree and long ago repaid the school what the agent gave him, he will get his just due and have his number retired.
Mark Cuban, the Dallas Mavericks owner whom Terry helped win a championship, was involved in his own controversy Thursday. During an interview with Inc. at a business conference in Nashville, Tennessee, Cuban said, "I know I'm prejudiced and bigoted in a lot of different ways."
"I wasn't really offended at all," Terry told Gottlieb about Cuban's comments. "I thought he was trying to do what Mark always does, and get a reaction and cause some controversy and get people talking about not only him but a topic."
Terry can be described in the same manner. He says what's on his mind and has always been that way.
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