DALLAS – Jason Terry just will not shut up.
It doesn’t matter how much Dirk Nowitzki tries to get his longest-tenured teammate to pipe down. It’s not going to happen.
“I told him I was going to put him on a no-interview policy,” Dirk said, recalling a moment after Terry provided some bulletin-board material earlier in the playoffs. “But he didn’t follow that, either.
“He’s a very confident young man. He believes in himself. That’s what I like about him.”
Dirk just doesn’t like the fact that Jet rarely hesitates to express his confidence to any reporter within shouting distance. That was the case this week, when Terry dismissed questions about LeBron James’ dominant clutch defense on him by openly doubting whether The Chosen One could keep it up for seven games.
It seemed like a foolish statement, considering that LeBron had just finished shutting down the league’s MVP. Chicago’s Derrick Rose shot 6.3 percent from the floor when defended by James during the Eastern Conference finals, a major reason why the Heat finished off the Bulls in five games.
Terry, who believed in these Mavs enough to get the Larry O’Brien Trophy tattooed on his right biceps way back in October, didn’t drop his head just because James shut him out in the fourth quarter of the Mavs’ Game 1 and 3 losses. That’s not how Jet flies.
Terry speaks his mind ... and then tries his hardest to back up his big words.
He wasn’t great in Game 4, but he was good enough. Terry wasn’t thrilled by scoring 17 points on 6-of-15 shooting, but he produced under pressure. His eight points in the fourth quarter helped fuel the Mavs’ comeback, as was the case in Game 2.
Yes, Jet missed some open jumpers late in the game that could have spared Dallas from the last-minute drama. But he made good on his vow to attack James, his much bigger foe, running LeBron through a maze of screens and taking him off the dribble on two straight possessions to start the crucial 17-4 run.
“I like this mentality,” Dirk said. “We need him to be aggressive.”
For that to happen, it seems that Terry has to motivate himself by running his mouth. He admits as much, saying nobody puts more pressure on him than he does on himself.
Terry flaps his gums so often and so colorfully that coach Rick Carlisle compared him to two trash-talking legends he’s been around during his days in the NBA: Reggie Miller and Larry Bird.
“Jet says what he says, and he has his reasons,” Carlisle said. “I don’t necessarily need to know what they are. But I think the one thing he knew was that once he says some things, he’s going to have to back it up.
“So I give him a lot of credit. It’s a lot easier to stay low key and sort of go with the flow.”
That’s just not Jet’s style. For better or worse -- and there has been plenty of both during his Dallas tenure -- it’s never put up or shut up with him. He’s always going to talk big, and he’ll either bask in the glory of backing it up or deal with the disappointment.
“That’s Jet,” said DeShawn Stevenson, the only other Maverick who can give Terry a run for his money as a trash talker. “Jet says some things on his mind that he doesn’t even know what he’s saying. But that’s Jet. He does it in card games, he does it on the bus. You’ve got to love him for that.”
Or hate him for it, as the Heat probably will by the end of the Game 7.