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NBA champion Jason Terry visits South Kitsap
Basketball players often are resistant to the prospect of not starting.
But Seattle native and Dallas Mavericks guard Jason Terry said Monday at the Detlef Schrempf Celebrity Golf Classic at McCormick Woods Golf Course that he was “tailor made” for the role.
Terry, 33, scored a game-high 27 points June 12 in his “sixth-man role” to help the Mavericks win their first NBA championship with a 105-95 victory against Miami. He averaged 18 points per contest in the six-game series.
“It was incredible just to be in the Finals playing games of that magnitude and to go out and produce,” Terry said. “Performing at a high level — and what it meant to the city of Dallas — was incredible for me.”
For Terry, it was a redemption of sorts after Dallas blew a 2-0 series lead in the NBA Finals five years ago against the Heat. Three of those four losses came by six points — combined. Terry, who was a starter at that point, averaged 22 points per game in that series. But that success was tainted by not winning the championship, which he said makes him even more “proud” that they were able to avenge that setback.
“We came back and got it done,” Terry said.
Dallas, which finished with a 57-25 record this season, actually won three fewer games than 2005-06. But Terry said one significant difference between that season and this year was experience. The Mavericks’ two leading scorers during the season, forward Dirk Nowitzki and Terry, both played in the 2006 NBA Finals. Jason Kidd, the team’s 38-year-old point guard, lost in consecutive championship series in 2002 and ’03 for New Jersey.
Terry said it was somewhat similar to watching the growth of the Seattle Sonics, his childhood team, in the 1990s. While Seattle did not win a championship during that decade, it built on regular-season success that culminated in finishing as the runner-up in the 1996 NBA Finals to Chicago. Both that team and Terry’s squad featured depth beyond their star players.
“You realize what a team could do,” Terry said. “Without Shawn Marion and J.J. Barea we wouldn’t have won a championship.”
Terry’s visits to his hometown have become less frequent since the Sonics moved in 2008 to Oklahoma City. Even though he now lives in Dallas during the offseason, Terry said he would like to be involved with a future NBA team in Seattle — either as a player of part-owner.
He said he does not have a lot of insight about progress toward bringing professional basketball back to the Emerald City. There has been speculation in recent years about the possibility of replacing KeyArena or building a new facility in Bellevue, but no potential ownership groups have gone public with their plans.
Last month, a pair of State Representatives — Mike Hope (R-Lake Stevens) and David Frockt (D-Seattle) — proposed forming a bipartisan task force of lawmakers, business leaders and grass-roots activists to bring the NBA back to the region. They suggested the possibility of a “jock tax” that would require visiting professional athletes to pay state income tax for each game here. Those funds would then help finance construction of a new facility for an NBA team.
However a building is financed, Terry said Seattle needs a strong owner. He used Mavericks owner Mark Cuban as an example. Dallas had 10 consecutive losing seasons before Cuban bought the team in 2000. It never has won fewer than 50 games in a season during his ownership.
“You hear little things here and there, but I think it’s going to take a great group — a guy like Mark Cuban — to come in and really take it over,” Terry said. “Seattle has the fan base. Give them a home and they’re going to come out and support it.”
It seems doubtful there will be any more clarity on that before there is funding for a new arena. Additionally, there is uncertainty in professional basketball as the owners appear on the verge of locking players out.
For now, Terry said he is training for a career in broadcasting through the NBA Players Association and ESPN.
But that only is a fallback option.
“Coaching is my passion,” Terry said. “I love the kids. Being at the college level, you get kids who are on the cusp. All they might need is a little push."
His preference would be to do that at the University of Arizona, where he guided the Wildcats to a national championship in 1997.
“That would be perfect,” Terry said. “I don’t feel like going anywhere else but back to my alma mater and knowing what it would mean with the history, tradition and everything Arizona stands for.”
But Terry, who played all 82 regular-season games and 21 more contests in the playoffs, said he still wants to play five more seasons and win another championship.
“That’s on the ticket,” he said. “I’m still having fun and loving what I’m doing.”