Illness had Jason Terry fearing for life

DALLAS -- Dallas Mavericks guard Jason Terry returned to practice Thursday and so did his beaming smile, a happy turnabout from a scary moment prior to Monday's practice when an ambulance awaited his arrival at the American Airlines Center.

Terry said he suddenly felt ill while driving to the arena, as his body was overcome by an unnerving feeling that he could not identify.

"I was scared. I feared for my life," Terry said. "I was literally driving down the tollway and I felt something I had never felt before. It's hard to explain what it was, but it was life-fearing; just not being in control for a split second. My body, it seemed like it wanted to just shut down."

As he continued to drive, Terry was able grab his cell phone and call Mavs head athletic trainer Casey Smith.

"Thank God Casey was on the phone," Terry said. "Twenty minutes later I was down the tollway, but he talked to me the whole way. At one point I thought I had to pull the car over and just stop. But, thank God I made it here, the EMS was here on site ready to go, got me in the ambulance, got me to the hospital."

A virus has been rampaging through the Mavs' locker room. Delonte West, Brian Cardinal and Brandan Wright also fell ill. Wright was knocked out of Sunday's first preseason game, while Terry and West missed Tuesday's second game.

Once examined at the hospital, Terry was released and sent home to rest. He said he came to the arena Wednesday night for a workout. He fully participated in Thursday's practice and said he came out of it feeling great.

"Perfect bill of health; it was just scary," Terry said. "I've never been through something like that. It's scary. The biggest relief was getting there (to the hospital) and they said, 'Why are you so healthy?' "

Terry said he'll be ready for the Christmas Day opener when the Mavs will raise the 2010-11 championship banner before taking on the Miami Heat, the team they ousted in the NBA Finals six months ago.

"The Jet is on the runway," he said, "and I'll be out there fired up on Sunday."

Jeff Caplan covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com.