Jason Terry Talks to B/R About Winning, His Confidence, the NBA Draft and More
Jason Terry is fresh off playing a critical role for the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals. His brilliant play off the bench, particularly in a closeout situation in Game 6, may have been the deciding factor against the irrationally favored Miami Heat.
Since winning the title, Terry has decided to auction off the shoes he wore in that closeout game and donate the highest bid to charity.
While promoting the auction and the Reebok ZigSlash shoes, "Jet" Terry took some time out of his busy schedule to talk some basketball with me.
Here are his thoughts on "irrational" confidence, playing the Heat, the NBA draft, and much more...
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The Infamous Tattoo and Jason Terry's Unshakable Confidence
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When the media wasn't shamelessly swooning over the Miami Heat, one of the most talked about storylines in this year's finals had to do with a tattoo Jason Terry had on his right bicep.
Long before winning a championship, Terry had the Larry O'Brien trophy permanently etched onto his arm. It was a bold move. No question about that.
I asked Terry about the tattoo and the confidence behind it. He wasn't the only player on the team getting a tattoo that day, but he was the only one making such a bold statement, "When I got done, they looked at me like I was crazy."
When I asked him what gave him the confidence make that choice, Terry replied, "I believed in this team and I knew if we'd do what we do, we'd be champs at the end of the day."
Where does the confidence come from? With Terry, the answer is simple, "I get the confidence from my faith in God."
Playing Against ESPN's Favorite Team
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While the majority of America rooted for the Dallas Mavericks, the announcers, analysts and experts at ESPN openly, unabashedly and shamelessly sent their love and support to the Heat.
Even for casual fans, the supposedly objective coverage from the worldwide leader in sports was annoying to say the least.
I asked Terry if the title was any sweeter because it came against a group of overhyped superstars. He answered, "Are you kidding me? It was so hard for me to not allow that to be the motivating factor going into the series,"
But for Dallas, playing the Heat wasn't sweet because of who they were this year, "We didn't care who was in the Miami Heat uniforms, but to be able to shake the demons of 05-06 was an unreal, unbelievable feeling and it was definitely a motivating factor."
"What it meant to myself, to Dirk, the city of Dallas. We knew."
"When the trophy was at stake, it didn't matter who they put out there on the floor. We were not going to let anyone stop us from realizing our ultimate goal."
So maybe the Mavericks weren't as annoyed by the media's coverage as we were.
Jet's Individual Impact on the Series
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At the start of the NBA Finals, plenty of experts wrote Jason Terry off. They didn't think he'd be able to make his usual impact because the Heat had LeBron James defending him in fourth quarters.
Obviously, Terry wasn't worried. He told us all that LeBron couldn't hang with him for the whole series, and he was right.
"I just believed that if they continued to guard me the way they were with a bigger defender, I'd have the advantage."
He took that advantage and ran with it. He attacked LeBron repeatedly in big moments. As Jet rose, the King withered in the spotlight.
After the series, Bill Simmons said that he was renaming his "Irrational Confidence" team after Terry. The problem with that is Jet's confidence doesn't look too irrational at the moment.
"It's all rational now... When you go out and tell them what you're going to do, and then do it to them, it gives me even more of the confidence I wasn't lacking in the first place."
That confidence was a huge factor in the deciding game of the series. When Dirk Nowitzki was struggling mightily in the first half of Game 6, Terry came through in a big way. He scored 19 points in the opening two quarters and led the Mavs to a two-point lead at halftime.
When I asked him how he felt during that first half, Terry said, "I was going to be locked in. I think my teammates knew it, and I definitely felt that way."
Being locked in is all in a day's work for Jet. When I asked him if he did anything different that night, he said, "I was just doing my job. It wasn't like I was trying to be superman, saving the day."
Playing Team Basketball
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As countless experts and analysts picked the Miami Heat and their three superstars to win the 2011 NBA title, the Dallas Mavericks (all of them) quietly went about their business and dismantled their opponents by playing basketball the way it was meant to be played.
"You don't need just three superstars to get it done. You need 15 guys," said Terry as we discussed what made the Mavericks such a solid unit.
The confidence and determination Terry displayed throughout the Finals was a characteristic that all his teammates shared to a degree.
They all knew it would take a team effort to beat the Heat, especially in Game 6. But they were determined to make it happen. Terry said the team's attitude heading into the closeout game was, "We're going to get this thing done tonight, at all costs."
Jet feels that the stellar play of his team will have a great influence on young players across the country who watched the Finals, "Kids all across the land are going to be making the extra pass, helping each other on defense, talking, making statements like, 'Hey, these guys can't stop us,' and then going out and proving it."
Looking Ahead to the Offseason and a Shot at a Repeat
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The next big event on the NBA calendar is the draft. Before I could even finish asking who Terry thought his Mavs should take with the 26th overall pick, he said, "Isaiah Thomas. Jason Kidd is going to need someone to back him up... and Isaiah Thomas is a sleeper in this year's draft. He's a phenomenal player, a huge athlete. Even more than that, he's a floor general."
I've been thinking for weeks now that the Mavs would go big with their first pick, but Terry's idea is intriguing and makes sense, especially if the team is unable to re-sign one key guard. "We want J.J. Barea back, but we don't know if we're going to be able to sign him."
As free agency came up, Terry's No. 1 priority was clear, "We gotta bring back Tyson Chandler." There's no doubt that Chandler's demeanor, leadership and play on the court had a profound impact on what this team was able to do this year.
If they can retain his services, it makes sense to consider them a contender for next year's title as well. Tons of experts said this was their one shot, but Terry doesn't buy that, "They talked so bad about us, how our window of opportunity was closing. Well, we opened that window right back up."
When I asked him what his motivation for next year would be, Jet cited a veteran leader, "One of the players who doesn't get enough credit for us is Jason Kidd. Watching him is what fuels us, what motivates us.
"He told me the other day that he's not retiring, he's coming back and he could do this for a couple more years. That's all the motivation I needed."
The Mavs were the hungriest team in the NBA during the 2010-11 season, and that hunger led to a title. By all indications, these guys haven't satisfied their appetite for winning, "It would be disappointing not to have another opportunity to get it done."
I'm sure they'll get that opportunity. And the experts would be wise not to bet against them this time.