Cold-Blooded Terry Set To Face Former Team

WALTHAM, Mass. – Jason Terry has gone through a lot during his NBA career, but that doesn’t mean he’s well versed in every aspect of life in the greatest basketball league on Earth.

Terry has played in 1,042 career regular season games. He has made 1,820 regular season 3-point shots. He has participated in eight playoff tournaments. We’ve lost count of the number of times he has impersonated a jet flying across the court, but that number is pretty high, too.

What Terry hasn’t done very often, however, is play against one of his former teams for the very first time. In fact, that occasion has been as rare as Terry winning an NBA title or a Sixth Man of the Year award.

Terry

Mavericks fans used to cheer this celebration by Terry, but now it's Boston's fans who applaud.
Jared Wickerham/NBAE/Getty Images

In other words, it has happened only once. But it’s about to happen twice.

The Celtics will host Terry’s former team, the Dallas Mavericks, at 8 p.m. tonight in TD Garden. He has only played a former NBA team once before, and that occurred way back on Dec. 18, 2004, when he logged 12 points, four rebounds, four assists and five steals against the Atlanta Hawks.

The Hawks traded Terry to the Mavericks in 2004 and he went on to spend the bulk of his career – eight seasons, to be exact – in Dallas. Terry won his one and only championship there, as well as his Sixth Man of the Year award. Memories of Terry in a blue-shaded jersey are plentiful, but he is putting those memories in the bank until further notice.

“We’ve got to put together three, four, five games in a row, so that’s where our focus is right now,” Terry said, mimicking the team-first attitude Doc Rivers preaches in Boston. “Dallas just happens to be the next opponent, and hopefully we can put together a string.”

That was Terry’s first response to the media Tuesday afternoon when he was asked about playing his former team. At first, it seemed like he was putting on a façade.

How could a player bypass such fond memories of an organization? How could he not become emotional when playing against the jersey he wore as he turned into a man? How could he look at this game as one of 82?

The answer to those questions can be found by visiting Dallas’ roster page. That page looks almost entirely different than it did when Terry and the Mavericks won a title back in 2011.

Truth be told, there are only four players remaining on Dallas’ roster who were on that 2010-11 team. Only two of those players, Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion, participated in the playoffs. Only Marion is expected to be in uniform tonight.

“They’ve got the same team name but it’s not the same team,” Terry said bluntly.

So what would make this a difficult emotional game for Terry, other than the fact that Rick Carlisle will be on the sideline and Mark Cuban may be in the stands?

“Other than that, maybe if Tyson Chandler was over there and Jason Kidd was over there then it would be something special, but honestly it’s really not,” he said.

When you think about it, Terry’s mindset heading into this game makes complete sense. Yes, this Mavs team is very different, but this attitude is the definition of Terry. It doesn’t matter what jersey is on the opposing sideline. All he wants to do is win. This guy is a cold-blooded animal. Just ask LeBron James.

That being said, the emotions are destined to catch up with him at some point. That point just isn’t tonight.

The Celtics will head to Dallas to take on the Mavericks on March 22 in American Airlines Arena. That night will be different, because Terry will be in his old surroundings, he’ll be cheered by his old fans, and he’ll likely receive a video tribute commemorating his years with the organization.

This is almost the same situation that Ray Allen faces. He wasn’t overly emotional on Opening Night, but he sure will be on Jan. 27 when he comes to TD Garden as a visitor for the first time in more than five years.

“I think it will be more special when I’m in their building and their arena,” Terry said. “Then we’ll have something to talk about.”

Until then, Terry will look at the Mavericks’ top players, wearing jersey Nos. 35, 32, 25, 6 and 0, as nameless faces. They’re just donning the jersey that he helped make famous.

“Again, honestly, right now they’re in Boston,” Terry said of his opponent. “These are our fans, and we’re ready to go.”

That doesn’t sound like a guy who has gone through this situation only once before in his 14 seasons, but that’s Terry for you. Cold-blooded.