The often overlooked and underappreciated Houston guard and former Franklin High star, is finishing his 16th season in the NBA, but his mother says he would like to play at least two more seasons.
Monday may be the last game of the season for Houston, which needs a Memorial Day win to avoid being swept out of the Western Conference finals by Golden State.
It may also be the last time Jason Terry, who is an unrestricted free agent in the offseason, suits up for the Rockets.
However, the 37-year-old Seattle native has no plans of ending his 16-year NBA career this summer.
Jason Terry bio
Born: Sept. 15, 1977, in Seattle
Height: 6-2. Weight: 176
High school: Franklin
Career highlights: NBA title with Dallas in 2011; NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 2009; NCAA champion with Arizona in 1997; two Class AA titles with Franklin High School.
“He wants to do 19 years,” said Terry’s mother Andrea Cheatham. “But if he can eke out two more years he’d be happy, but no less than two. Ultimately, three and even four years would be amazing to make it an even 20.”
Most Read Sports Stories
- Commentary: This ended the only way it could for WSU and unvaccinated football coach Nick Rolovich
- WSU football coach Nick Rolovich fired for refusing COVID vaccine; defensive coordinator is acting head coach
- With Nick Rolovich gone, remaining WSU football coaches, along with players and fans, try to move forward
- WSU football coaching candidates: Names to watch as Cougars begin search to replace Nick Rolovich
- National media react to Seahawks’ Week 6 loss, Jamal Adams’ claim and Russell Wilson’s drills
What’s truly amazing is Terry, whose first love was football, has endured so long in a sport where he’s often been overlooked and underappreciated.
Rarely has he been the best player on his team and yet, the skinny point guard with the shaved head and headband built a legendary basketball career highlighted by winning championships, draining three-pointers and extending his arms wide while running down the court with a big toothy smile.
“He was a late bloomer because he really didn’t get into basketball until he was 13,” Cheatham said. “He always wanted to be a football player, but I thought he was too thin to play football so I pushed him into basketball.”
As a junior at Franklin High, where Terry helped the Quakers to back-to-back Class AA state basketball titles in 1994 and ’95, he played on a recreational league football team in Federal Way. He kept the gridiron pursuits a secret because he didn’t want to turn away potential college basketball recruiters.
On the hardcourt, Terry was a four-star prospect, but inexplicably he wasn’t voted team MVP as a junior or senior.
“In high school, he played defense and ran the offense, which is what Franklin needed,” said Michael Johnson, one of the state’s most prolific scorers at Ballard High who played at Washington. “They didn’t need him to score 20 or 30 points.
“He did all the little things. He got steals and assists. He got rebounds. He scored when he had to and he won two state titles.”
At Arizona, Terry was the sixth man who averaged 10.6 points and 4.4 assists on a star-studded 1996-97 NCAA championship team that included future pros Michael Dickerson, Mike Bibby and Miles Simon.
Two years later, Terry was a consensus first-team All-American and earned National Player of the Year honors from Sports Illustrated, CBS and Basketball Times while averaging 21.9 points, 5.5 assists and 2.8 steals as a senior.
“People forget that Jason was a sophomore on that team when we won it all and somebody had to come off the bench,” Dickerson said last year. “He was the youngest and that’s just how it worked out.
“But after we left, Jason stayed and showed everybody how good he is.”
Terry spent five seasons (1999-04) with the Atlanta Hawks, who selected him 10th overall in the draft.
He thrived during an eight-year stint (2004-12) with the Dallas Mavericks that included winning the Sixth Man of the Year award in 2009 and teaming up with Dirk Nowitzki to capture the 2011 NBA title.
In the past three years, Terry has been traded three times while making stops at Boston, Brooklyn and Sacramento before landing in Houston. He ranks third in NBA history with 2,076 three-pointers.
Cheatham knows Terry, who is averaging 8.7 points and 2.7 assists while starting all 15 playoff games, and the Rockets are in trouble. They’re down 3-0 and no NBA team has ever won a playoff series after losing the first three games.
Still, last week she was in Houston and watched the Rockets recover from a 3-1 deficit to overtake the Los Angeles Clippers in the conference semifinals.
“He has so much faith in himself and his ability that he never gets down,” Cheatham said. “No matter what anyone else may think, Jason will say there’s always an opportunity. He never sees anything finished.”
Whenever Terry stops playing, he plans to pursue an NBA coaching career.
“These last few years have been like an apprenticeship,” Cheatham said. “He’s always coaching or cheerleading.”
Once Terry is permanently on the sideline, perhaps then it’ll be easier to quantify a career that ranks among the Seattle greats.
“If I’m putting together a list of the top guys to come out of this area, I put Jason in the top 2-3, at least from the guys that played in my era,” Johnson said. “There’s Jamal (Crawford), Nate (Robinson) and Brandon (Roy), but I might even consider Jason No. 1 as far as guys who have come out and had success.”