(October 23, 2013)
BOSTON—Another player, one whose ego is out of control, or is lacking in confidence, might have been irked by the third-rate billing that Jason Terry has received these last three months.
Ever since the Nets shifted the balance of power in the Eastern Conference with the blockbuster deal that brought Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Terry to Brooklyn from Boston, the 6-2 shooting guard has been a distant third in the conversation.
Terry is O.K. with it. Actually, he embraces it.
“I understand the journey,” said Terry. “I understand the reason for it. Everybody has their own journey.
“For me it’s another opportunity to win a world championship. I’m just honored to play alongside those two guys. That’s the way I look at it.”
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Terry, 36, is one of the ‘wise men,’ Coach Jason Kidd is counting on to lead this team to the franchise’s first NBA title.
He was a key cog in the Dallas Mavericks’ championship run in 2011. He won the NBA’s Sixth Man award in 2009. And he has made the fourth most three-pointers of any active player.
“You hear people say a guy has, ‘no fear,’ ” said guard Shaun Livingston. “That’s Jet. He has no fear.”
While all eyes in Boston were on the team with the players wearing scruffy beards that plays in Fenway, a fact not lost on Terry, Wednesday night was an important one for him.
He made his preseason debut after missing the first five games while recovering from off-season knee surgery.
Terry did not have any structural damage in his left knee. He had the wear and tear of 14 NBA seasons.
The Nets lost 101-97 as Kidd opted not to play any of his starters.
His absence, along with Deron Williams’ recovery from a right ankle injury and Andrei Kirilenko’s worrisome back spasms, has prevented Kidd from seeing a complete picture of this team.
Williams practiced for the first time Tuesday. Kidd said Wednesday his starting point guard will practice again Thursday in Miami, a great sign that he’s on track to play in the season opener in one week in Cleveland.
Kirilenko’s back might become the team’s No.1 concern heading into the regular season. He did not play against the Celtics.
Terry is one of the veteran players who won’t let this team hit the panic button.
“Whatever the circumstances are, however we get off, we’re going to rely on mental toughness and defense to be consistent,” said Terry. “We know it’s a process. At the same time, we want to win every game. For me, that process starts in Boston.”
It was here that Terry spent last season with Garnett and Pierce. The green and white of the Celtics does not hold nearly the emotional tie for those two veteran forwards.
But Terry clearly has been keeping an eye on the goings on in Beantown, where the Red Sox hosted Game 1 of the World Series.
“The other thing we pride ourselves on is the next man theory,” said Terry. “Look at the Boston Red Sox and what they’ve been able to accomplish, with guys being out. It’s going to take a team.”
Terry played 24 minutes and seven seconds, scoring seven points on 1-of-5 shooting on 3’s (3-of-7 overall) with two rebounds, three assists and two turnovers. In other words, he played like a player that was getting the kinks out.
“Everything was great except for the two turnovers,” said Terry. “My wind was great.”
Indeed, the energy was there. The bounce in the step was there. And when he hit his first 3, he spread his arms wide, and Jet, as he is known, soared back on defense.
“I’ve got great friends on that team, great friends in the organization,” Terry said of the Celtics. “The fans, they loved me when I was there.”
Of course they did. It’s easy to like a player that enjoys his journey.