DALLAS -- Jason Terry’s time in Dallas might be nearing its end, but he’s earned the right to have his jersey hanging in the American Airlines Center to honor him forever.
If not from the arena rafters -- as Jet ever so humbly requested during the post-parade celebration after last season’s title run -- then at least in the media room. After all, Terry unofficially holds the franchise record for the most sensational quotes spoken.
Terry’s mouth has been on a heck of a run recently. From complaining about crunch-time minutes to calling out teammates and the front office to openly discussing auditioning for the other 29 teams, Jet has provided plenty of sports talk radio fodder over the last couple of weeks.
“Oh, I’m going to speak the real,” Terry said Saturday night, puffing his chest out after playing a key role in the Mavs’ 106-99 win over their Interstate 35 rival Spurs.
What Jet speaks depends on your perspective.
“If I was a reporter, I probably wouldn’t even interview him because I know he’s talking, it’s just nonsense half the time,” said Dirk Nowitzki, Terry’s locker room neighbor for the last seven-plus seasons. “Especially after games, he’s just fired up. I wouldn’t even pay him no attention.”
Owner Mark Cuban had a similar reaction to Terry’s recent controversial comments, calling it “just Jet being Jet.”
Coach Rick Carlisle’s take: “Everybody can shoot their mouth off if they’re going to play like he’s playing right now.”
And that’s all that really matters. The Mavs will gladly put up with Terry, who has been inconsistent on the floor this season, flapping his gums for the media when he produces like he has this week.
Terry averaged 19.7 points on 51.2 percent shooting from the floor (61.5 percent from 3-point range) during the 3-0 homestand. He was at his clutch best in the last few minutes against the Spurs, hitting a pair of 3-pointers to stop San Antonio from mounting a serious threat, drilling the dagger with 41 seconds remaining.
“If he stays locked in and fired up,” Dirk said, “I think he’s still one of the best closers in the game.”
This was classic Terry in crunch time. And it was a welcome change from riding pine with the game on the line in close losses to the Hornets and Suns since the All-Star break.
“I’m always confident in those situations,” said Terry, who finished with 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting against the Spurs. “Nothing’s changed for me. Again, it’s my job when I’m in there to do what I’m supposed to, and that’s to either make a shot or make a play. You know me. I want to be in there, but it’s on Coach.”
It’s on Terry, too.
Carlisle has never publicly confirmed this, but it was pretty clear that he benched Terry down the stretch in Phoenix because of poor effort. Terry got yanked during a timeout after he failed to even try to box out Shannon Brown, who threw down an uncontested putback jam.
Carlisle wasn’t the only one mad at Terry that night.
“We clashed a little bit after the Phoenix game,” Nowitzki said, declining to get into details. “Since then, I think he’s been really focused. He’s been playing well. He’s been aggressive. He’s been engaged on the defensive end, going for it and helping the team. That’s all we ask for.”
Terry getting into it with teammates isn’t too unusual. He’s had dozens of heated on- and off-court discussions with Dirk over the years, like brothers who bicker but always have each others’ back. Terry almost scrapped with J.J. Barea just before the playoffs began last season, getting benched for the rest of that game because of it.
That obviously didn’t bother the Mavs once the postseason began.
Terry tends to be emotional, but the circumstances are different this season. He has no job security and readily admits that his contract is always on his mind. (And feet, for that matter. He has “CTC” stenciled on his Reeboks, which stands for Cut the Check.)
Yet Terry understands that his individual business interests and the team’s goals are intertwined. The best way to get paid is to win big.
“No question, I’ve got a lot riding on this season,” Terry said. “Obviously financially with my situation, knowing where I’m going to be next season, it’s up in the air. So, for me, the more we play, the more I get exposed, the more I get seen. I want to stay and play as long as we can this year. If we go back to the Finals and win it all, I’ll be able to write my own ticket.”
The Mavs will need Terry to keep performing like he has this week to have a legitimate shot to make that happen.
That's speaking the real, no nonsense.