When Steve Nash left the Dallas Mavericks to return to the Phoenix Suns in the summer of 2004, the Mavs opted to make several moves to fill the void left by the future two-time MVP. The immediate move turned out to be one of the most lopsided trades in team history that basically came down to Dallas trading Antoine Walker to Atlanta for Jason Terry. Walker lasted 53 games with the Hawks before being dealt to Boston, while Terry is in his seventh season with the Mavericks.
Jason Terry, known as "JET," has excelled in Dallas, winning the 2009 NBA Sixth Man of the Year, averaging close to 20 points per game coming off the bench. He also was a big factor in the Mavs' playoff series win over Portland last week and the teams' victory Monday night against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Since being selected in the first round of the NBA Draft out of the University of Arizona, Terry has always taken pride in giving back to communities across the country. In 2000, he began the Jason Terry Foundation with its primary focus on helping others obtain dreams (H.O.O.D) by providing inner city youths the opportunity to further their education beyond high school. He also donates $100 for each of the three point field goals he made to Gilda's Club of North Texas, an organization providing a free nonresidential meeting place for cancer patients and their families. Terry currently ranks 8th all-time in NBA history in three pointers made.
I was able to sit down with Terry at a recent Dallas Mavericks shootaround and chat about a few subjects ranging from his favorite Dallas eateries to his charity endeavors and playing professional basketball in "Cowboys Country."
JAY BETSILL: In your NBA career, you have played for the Hawks and the Mavs. Compare living in Atlanta to living in Dallas.
JASON TERRY: Both cities are great cities with great nightlife. Dallas is a more vibrant, upscale nightlife, while Atlanta is more of a younger crowd. They are both great places for athletes to live and there is always something to do after the game.
JB: What is the biggest differences in playing for the two teams?
JT: My ultimate goal is to win. It doesn't matter how many points you score. It's about winning. Here in Dallas, we have some die-hard fans, some of the best in America. Before I got here, my perception is that this was 'Cowboys Country,' but with our winning ways, it has certainly evolved into 'Maverick Nation." When I fly out 'on the runway' so to speak and they slap my hands, it is a great feeling.
JB: When you were in college at Arizona, you guys were good every year, culminating in winning the championship in 1997. Does playing for the Mavs have that same type of feeling?
JT: Absolutely. It all starts with our owner. He spearheads it all. When you see his passion and enthusiasm for the game and the way he takes care of his players, it makes it easy for us to go out there and play every night.
JB: Do you have a favorite place to go out to eat or hang out in DFW?
JT: If I'm taking my wife out, we'll go to Nick & Sam's or Nobu. If I have the kids, we go to Dave & Busters or Amazing Jakes.
JB: Do you have a favorite arena to play in on the road?
JT: Oh yeah, my favorite arena will always be Key Arena in Seattle, even though they don't have a team there anymore (that franchise moved to Oklahoma City). I grew up in Seattle. I used to go there as a fan, then going back there to play I would always have big games. Other than that, I like LA, the big stage.
JB: Speaking of LA, what's the difference in playing the Lakers and the Clippers at Staples Center?
JT: They do a great job with the lighting at Staples Center. For the Clippers, it's like a dark dungeon, and the Lakers it's showtime. You half expect Magic and Worthy to come out of the rafters.
JB: Of the visiting arenas, who would you say has the best food spread?
JT: The best after the game spread would have to be Toronto. They have a great variety and their ball-boys are real good at keeping the food hot.
JB: You and Caron Butler did a coat and blanket drive this past November. Talk a little about that.
JT: Since I became a professional, I always wanted to give back. In Dallas, the Mavs do such a great job in the community. As for myself, I am involved in so many different entities and charity work and it's fun for me. Especially when you see the smile on people's faces when you come through for them and they know it's genuine. The joy is great.
JB: After the spectacle that was the NBA All-Star Game at Cowboys Stadium, could you see the Mavs playing a regular season game there? And if so, who would it be against?
JT: Definitely. We would probably play the Spurs and it would sell out 100,000 people. I think they should do every major sporting event there. Not only the Super Bowl, but they should play a hockey game there. Final Four. Boxing. It's an amazing venue and he (Jerry Jones) knew what he wanted when he built it.
JB: Do you have a favorite place to travel in the off-season?
JT: I am a Bahamas guy. They say I look like one of the natives so I guess that's why they welcome me with open arms. I have gone there at least once a year since before I got drafted.
JB: And I understand your foundation has a big event coming up this summer?
JT: We are hosting the 1st Annual Father/Daughter Ball: "A Royal Affair," June 19 at the Crescent Court Hotel in Dallas. I have four daughters and this event is just for fathers and their daughters. There will be a sit-down dinner, dancing, photos, and a chance to win prizes throughout the night. You can get tickets at JasonTerryFoundation.org.
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