Arizona Basketball

Throwback Thursday: My reunion with Jason Terry four years ago




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Twelve years passed when I saw Jason Terry for the first time since covering him and the Arizona basketball program for The Arizona Daily Star.

I ran into him when I covered the 2011 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. When he first saw me, it was like we were back in McKale after an Arizona victory and I was interviewing him by his locker. Time stood still. His memory of me was as fresh as ever, which surprised me with how far he’s gone with a long NBA career.

“Hey! What’s up?!” he shouted to me when he first saw me at the Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas. He then gave me a hand shake and a hug.

I looked around and saw John Thompson and Nancy Lieberman behind me. They caught Terry’s eye first but Terry acknowledged me after seeing me. Terry’s all about his roots and he knew me through the three years I covered the team and also followed them in the 1997 exhibition tour of Australia.

On that trip to Down Under, I remember Terry, who like the rest of the Wildcats were not fond of Australia, saying on the team bus, “Man, I don’t know what I’d do if I have to play (professionally) here.” He never had to worry about that since his NBA career started in 1999, when freshman wing player Stanley Johnson was only 3.


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Jason Terry celebrates after Arizona wins the 1997 national championship (click on photo to access video)

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Jason Terry proclaims UA has advanced to four Final Fours in a video released by the Arizona athletic department

Jason Terry proclaims Arizona has advanced to four Final Fours in a video released by the Arizona athletic department


Bennett Davison talks about what Terry stirred up the night before the 1997 NCAA title.
Brett Hansen, former Arizona basketball media relations specialist, offers special stories about Terry, including a touching one about what Terry did for his son.
Jim Rosborough recalls a funny story about Terry in his first road trip as freshman with the Wildcats in 1995.
A.J. Bramlett gets a good laugh over Terry’s superstitions after all of these years.
Steve Rivera, a longtime sports writer in Tucson, labels Terry as one of his best interview subjects


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Thompson, the legendary former Georgetown coach, leaned forward in his chair at the Cox Pavilion to capture Terry’s attention and flashed that genuine 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 have been on a pleasure cruise, or at a nearby casino in Las Vegas. Instead, he took a seat behind Dallas’ bench during the summer league game on a Saturday night and shouted out instruction as if he was a coach.

Terry at that time told me he wanted to coach, hopefully at Arizona. He said he showed up to the summer league game to “evaluate talent”.

“God-willing, I’ll play about (two) more years (until he is 40) and then I will ride off into the sunset,” Terry told me. “What I’ve been doing lately is I’ve turned to (coaching) an AAU program … 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.”

Terry told me his native Seattle will always be his home and Tucson is second. He spent his longest time in Dallas (eight seasons) and became drawn to that community before leaving to Boston, New Jersey, Sacramento and now Houston.

His bond to Tucson strengthened with him fulfilling a pledge to his mother, Andrea Cheatham, by earning his degree in general studies from Arizona last spring. He told me he wanted to coach at his alma mater some day.

“I watch their program,” he said of Arizona. “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.”

Terry has the distinction of being the last point guard to have an NBA career in Arizona’s storied Point Guard U. tradition.

“Yeah, there are a couple of kids (Jason Gardner and Mustafa Shakur) who should have made it and it didn’t work out,” he said. “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.

“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.”

I asked him, “You don’t still sleep in your uniform the night before a game still do you?”

“Nah, I wear the opposing team’s shorts to bed,” he said. “My wife kills me. But I’m still superstitious.”

Why is that, to keep your mind on the game?

“Just trying to stay focused, yes sir.” publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He has also written articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.


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