Q&A of Those in the Know: Jason Terryby Javier Morales on Jul. 10, 2010, under Sports
LAS VEGAS — You know you have reached star status when John Thompson and Nancy Lieberman make it a point to welcome your presence.
That’s what happened when former UA guard and 11-year NBA vet Jason Terry walked into the Cox Pavilion here Saturday night. Thompson, the legendary former Georgetown coach, leaned forward in his chair to capture Terry’s attention and flashed that genuine John Thompson smile as he shook Terry’s hand.
Lieberman, one of the greatest women’s basketball players in history, grabbed Terry’s arm and asked incredulously, “What are you doing here?”
The answer to that question describes Terry in a nutshell: He cares about winning. He could be on a pleasure cruise right now, or at a nearby casino here in Las Vegas. Instead, he took a seat behind the Mavericks’ bench during the NBA Summer League game with Houston on Saturday night and shouted out some instruction as if he was a coach.
Speaking of that, Terry wants to coach, and he wants that to be at Arizona, unequivocally. That’s one of the topics he chatted with me about minutes before Dallas played Houston. Here’s the Q&A:
Q: What are your thoughts about your career now? You’re going to be in your 12th season. How much longer do you think you’ll be playing?
Terry: God-willing, I’ll play about six more years and then I will ride off into the sunset. What I’ve been doing lately is I’ve turned to (coaching) an AAU program in Dallas. This year, my sixth-grade girls took second place. Unbelievable (he said with excitement). You know, coaching kids and being out in the community that’s something I love to do and that’s something I’ll probably do in the future.
Q:Obviously you don’t have to be here — summer-league game. Does this show how serious you are about winning in Dallas?
Terry:I’m always evaluating talent and we have a young guy in Rodrigue Beaubois that I’m trying to mold and show him the ropes. He’s a player who reminds me of myself. So anything that I can do to help him take his game to his next level, that’s what I’m here for.
Q: Is Dallas your home now with all the community projects you’re doing there?
Terry: It’s definitely home. I mean my kids love it. Being there six years now, that’s longer than what I was in Atlanta. I hate to say second home, but it’s moving up there. Tucson will always be my second home. Dallas is moving up there.
Q: What about Seattle?
Terry: That’s always No. 1.
Q: Do you see yourself as an NBA coach or college coach?
Terry: College coaching, no question. I watch their program (Arizona’s). I’m great with recruiting. I have an edge in that department. You know, just coming back, making that part of my legacy. I will always be a Wildcat at heart. You know, I’m a Lute (Olson) disciple. It will be the same system that he ran.
Q: But with Sean Miller there you will have to wait a while or are you looking to join his staff?
Terry: I don’t know. I’ve talked to Sean. He’s a great coach and I’d love to go in under him and eventually be his successor.
Q: What kind of advice would you give (undrafted and unsigned) Nic Wise? What do you see in his game that maybe he needs to work on?
Terry: If he really wants to be an NBA player, in his heart he feels like he wants to be here, than he will have to continue to work hard and stay dedicated and never stop. I mean, I look at Darrell Armstrong, a guy who is on our coaching staff and it took him eight years after college before finally breaking into the league. The kid (Wise) has tons of potential and if he continues to work hard, he’ll find his way.
Q: You’re the last starting point guard to make an NBA career out of Arizona. Is that too long for that to happen?
Terry: Yeah, there are a couple of kids (Jason Gardner and Mustafa Shakur) who should have made it and it didn’t work out. It’s an honor for me. Hopefully one day my jersey will be up in the rafters. I don’t know when. It would be a tremendous honor.
Q: Does it make you appreciate your NBA career more to see guys like Gardner and Shakur try hard and keep knocking on that door?
Terry: Oh, that’s why every day I’m blessed. I look at all that I’ve been able to accomplish after playing at the University of Arizona. … A national championship, leading my team my senior year … doing a lot of great things and being the No. 10 draft pick (in the first round). I’m living the dream.
Q: You don’t still sleep in your uniform the night before a game do you?
Terry: Nah, I wear the opposing team’s shorts to bed. My wife kills me. But I’m still superstitious.
Q: Why is that, to keep your mind on the game?
Terry: Just trying to stay focused, yes sir.