Danny Ainge may be giving the players some time away from basketball, but we are calling every player on the roster into our Celtics Town offices for their exit interviews for the rest of this week. Here’s the second in the series: Jason Terry.
We’ve come a long way since last summer. If you asked me at the beginning of the summer which Celtic was mostly likely to replace Ryan Hollins as the subject of my heckling I would never have dreamed in a million years it would be you (and for a while Bass gave you a run for your money). Reactions to your signing ranged from cautious optimism to giddy hyperbole bordering on the absurd. I was admittedly in the later camp but I wasn’t alone, you inspired Jay to write things like, “JET isn’t going to knock on the door when he subs into a game. He’s going to huff, he’s going to puff, and he’s going to blow that mother-bleeper down.” “Replacing” Ray Allen carried high expectations from a wounded Celtics fan base, and though you were adamant that you were not Ray you guaranteed a championship and labelled yourself a “game-changer.” You also got this silly tattoo.
Instead of meeting my expectations you put me through something that resembles the five stages of grief. At the beginning of this season I was in denial (“JET will get going, he just needs time to get comfortable get in the offense”), followed by anger (“I can’t believe this guy was supposed to replace Ray Allen”), bargaining (“Maybe if we throw in a pick someone will take Terry off our hands at the trade deadline”), depression (“I can’t believe we’re going to be stuck with this crap for two more seasons”), anger a few more times (every time you stepped on the court really), and finally acceptance. The acceptance came about when I realized that the Jason Terry everyone remembers is the one from the magical run the Mavericks made in the 2011 playoffs that was performing way above his regular season numbers. In fact, aside from numbers affected by your drop in minutes, you performed right around your career regular season averages. I know, I was shocked too. It doesn’t explain your inability to grasp the Celtics’ defense, but I could say that about half the roster and the expectations for you on defense were low to begin with.
Fortunately (for your career and my sanity) you stepped up during the playoffs (though you spent the first three games warming up), including an insanely clutch performance during the overtime of game four. Because I’m easily swayed by recency bias you convinced me that you were alright, instead of the most untradable albatross of a contract since Jeff Green had an untradeable albatross of a contract. I even find myself inexplicably attached to you, probably because with Kevin and Paul’s futures up in the air you might be the only returning vet next season. While I’m fearful of what kind of influence you might have on an already excessively eager shooter like Jordan Crawford, the locker room will need a veteran presence. Rondo could certainly provide some of that (depending on what happens with Paul and Kevin) but I’m sure you’ll do enough talking for both of you.
Ultimately this wasn’t a great season for you JET. I’m not sure how much of this has to do with how the Celtics chose to use you, how much this has to do with tired legs, and how much has to do with impossible expectations. I hope next season will be better, for both of us, and I’ll try not to watch Game 6 of the 2011 Finals too many times between now and then. Through all the ups and downs you’ve been a great teammate, always willing to shoulder the blame and eager to deflect praise. You know how to say the right thing, Jason, even if you say it too much.