Editor's Note: Front paged for discussion potential!
Jason Terry's last shot of the 2012 NBA season: an off-balance 3-pointer with only a few seconds to go that hit...rim. As I saw Jet launch that one, I was actively thinking about the possible end of his career as a Maverick. It seems quite surreal.
I have been a Mavs fan since around December 2002, so the first Mavs I grew up with were the classic Big Three -- Nash, Finley, and Nowitzki. I was a huge Nash guy. I remember going to Game 4 of the 2003 Western Conference Finals and I was devastated that Dirk was out with a high ankle sprain. I'll never forget, sitting in those crappy nosebleed seats, seeing Nash put up 25 and hit a crazy four-point-play with the classic extended-leg follow-through. He was far from a superstar back then, but he was the head of the snake, even over Nowitzki.
The week before Nash left in free agency, I had just bought his jersey. (What an investment, I know). I was pretty down about it, and kind of mad at Cuban for letting my guy leave. So I never expected in the midst of all that offseason's heartache that we would find a true Maverick for life, Dirk Nowitzki's trusty championship-winning sidekick.
So many things come to mind when I think of Jet. His loud mouth. Those goofy knee-length socks and the silly headband (my dad always laughs and comments how it makes him look like a baby). The infuriating shot selection and the fourth quarter clutchness. The "irrational confidence" (as Bill Simmons likes to call it). But most of all, just the duo of him and Dirk. It's probably the most unlikely duo in NBA history -- a 7'0 "soft," quiet, German sharpshooter and a 6'2 loud-mouthed, self-proclaimed tough guy, undersized shooting guard from Seattle.
Nobody (in their right mind) will ever argue Jet is a Hall-of-Famer or even an All-Star level talent, but every great team needs a guy like him. One who refuses to kowtow to opponents (and challenges them -- or even punches them in the balls), doesn't sugarcoat things, brings enthusiasm every day, and, most of all, believes he is way way way way way way way better than he is.
He certainly wasn't perfect. He frustrated me to no end with great regularity with his antics both on and off the court. Most recently with his talk about "cut the check" and "auditioning for 29 other teams." But that stuff will wash away eventually.
If that missed three truly was Jet's last shot as a Maverick, I'll remember him for all the good times.
That clutch 28-foot trey of LeBron James in Game 5 to put us up 3-2 in the Finals. His 11-for-16 masterpiece in Game 6 against the Heat last year. The big threes he hit against the Lakers in Game 4. The innumerable fourth-quarter pull-up jump shots and threes he's given us over the years, followed by his signature "jet on the runway" routine.
The look of sheer incredulity and disgust on his face when Dwyane Wade held that goose-neck jump-shot pose in front of the Mavs bench before the run in Game 2. The touching embrace he shared with Dirk after our championship was secured, two teammates basking in the redemption from 2006 and 2007 failures.
If Jet does indeed leave, it will be the end of an era, just like July 2004. And it was a good one.