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Facing Jason Terry

Ronald Martinez

Tomorrow night, one of the most familiar faces in Dallas Mavericks history comes home in Celtics Green. How he got there is not a surprising story--and in some ways, that's the biggest surprise of all.

Jason Eugene Terry. The unfortunate sidekick, and the only one who could have taken it. Because the three best players of the last era of basketball were, in whatever order, Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, and Dirk Nowitzki and only one of them never got to play alongside a lot of talent for any length of time. Terry certainly was not, is not, Shaq or Pau Gasol, and he wasn't Manu or Tony Parker either.

But if you could only have one of those guys, at least non-Shaq, and you knew that it was only going to be Dirk and one other of those guys, that there would never be the offensive talent those other collections would boast, let me tell you that Jason Terry SHOULD be the #2 pick in that group because he's the only one who wouldn't know that it would have, should have been a suicide mission. And that is flat. If you were going to go in there with not enough talent and you had to choose between Pau, Manu, TP or JET, you choose the JET because he does not care.

Don't believe me? Name one thing that Jason Terry can do that OJ Mayo can't. OJ's actually better at more or less everything, a better pure shooter, a better finisher, a better passer and rebounder and while defensively it's a race to the bottom OJ's size probably gives him the edge there, too. Go ahead and tell me that Terry---who leads the universe, all-time, in turning the other team's half-court heaves at the buzzer into free throws--has a higher bball IQ than Mayo.

Mr. Fourth Quarter. Mr. Clutch. Who built with Dirk what another, much better player, Steve Nash, for all the good feeling, never did. Jason had his faults, huge faults. They were related to what made him so good, but it's probably true that if 2011 had never happen we'd remember Terry completely differently. Generally, a good clutch time performer who had trouble against good defenses and made questionable decisions. Sometimes I still remember him that way, I'm not blind.

But Jason Eugene Terry. Jason Terry, going 9-10 from three to finish off the Lakers before that powerful beast had a chance to get up off the map. Jason Terry, shooting a 25-foot three on a guy six inches taller than him and twice his size, the greatest player in the game, to seal a Game 5 Finals victory and break a 2-2 deadlock the Mavericks' way.

Jason Terry, who, in Game 6, when Dirk hampered by playing through illness and a torn finger ligament, showed up slow, stepped into the first quarter down 15-22 and scored 9 points in 4 minutes to give them a 5 point lead after one, 19 points in the half to preserve a 53-51 lead, and finished the night 11-16 for 27 and a championship ring. And as the Heat tried to mount a furious comeback, down just 7 with 9:30 to go, it was Terry and a finally wide awake Dirk who combined for 16 of the Mavs' last 21 points to shut. the. door.

The only man who ever has tattooed, or will tattoo a Larry O'Brien trophy on his arm the same year that he won one.

This guy. Never the most talented, far from infallible, always a hero. And there was never any real chance the Mavericks were going to re-sign him. And unlike Tyson Chandler, there wasn't a lot of sentiment that they should.

Can you imagine the world we were living in, in those days? Can you still feel THAT feeling? It seems awfully distant to me now. I mean we all kind of agreed, didn't we, and maybe a lot of us still feel like we're right, that paying Jason Eugene Terry 5 million every year for three years, was completely out of the question?

You can put a price on a 34 year old SG with a skillset predicated on athleticism.

But you cannot put a price on Jason Eugene Terry.

Tomorrow night the AAC welcomes home one of its best, one of its brightest. The hero, the personality. The only guy who never knew, no matter the circumstances, that the game, the Mavericks, the dream of a ring were over years ago.

Jason Terry, the only one of us who turned out to be right.

I miss watching the JET. And if it ever turns out that Boston doesn't want him, they should send him right back home.