Wrote this for Jason Terry day, yesterday, but for those who go EXCLUSIVELY to MMB for their news, as is right and proper, here it is, my defining Jason Terry memory.
Obviously, we all remember Jet’s 28-foot three-pointer over LeBron. We all remember him and Peja raining the fires of Mordor down on the Lakers, in Game 4, and keeping the Mavericks in Game 6 against the Heat until Dirk’s slumbering jumper awoke. But that’s not quite right for me and my memories. If Jet was that player, rather than sometimes that player, the Mavericks would never have let him go — and he’d probably not be beloved in the curious, quirky, conflicted but devoted way that he is.
For me, my defining JET moment is in Game 2 of the NBA Finals, a night that belonged to Dirk Nowitzki and the torn ligament on his hand — for without Dirk, the real Jet is, presumably, what he was for Atlanta and what he will be for Boston. You all remember it. The Heat had the Mavs on the mat. 0-1, looking at 0-2 if they couldn’t come back from a 15 point deficit with less than 6 and a half minutes to go. They’d done it once, against the Thunder, but that was a different team, that wasn’t this defense. That wasn’t LeBron James, and it wasn’t 2006 redux.
The night, as I say, would belong to Dirk, who scored 9 points in the last 3 minutes, including the game-winning layup off his torn hand. But it never would have happened, as so much never would have happened if it wasn’t for Jason Eugene Terry. Because the Mavericks need Dirk, they’re not anything without Dirk. But right then, 15 down,6 to go, looking at an 0-2 hole and remembering the past, they didn’t need incredible talent. They needed somebody who believed and whose belief could never be shaken.
That someone was, and always was, Jason Terry. I remember it like it was yesterday, hopefully I always will. He came out of a time out and he made an 18-footer. Mario Chalmers missed, and Terry hit a driving layup. LeBron missed, and Jet hit two free throws. In one minute — one minute — he pared a 15-point lead down to a nine-point lead. Two minutes later, he hit another jumper to cut the lead down to four.
Terry didn’t erase the lead himself, and he didn’t win the game. In fact, after Dirk hit a three-pointer with 26 seconds left that by all rights should have been the game-winner, it was Terry’s poor defense that gave Chalmers an open three to tie it up, making Dirk win the game again. That was the Jason Terry experience, incandescent brilliance and inexplicable lapses.
But when the Mavs needed someone who didn’t know they’d lost, that someone was Jason Terry, as it so often was. They’ll miss that, I think, much more than they know.