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BDL Interview: Jason Terry on retired jerseys, ‘elite status’ and Obama vs. Cuban

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Jason Terry is really, really enjoying being an NBA champion.

This should come as no shock to anyone who's followed his 12-year professional career. (If you haven't been, do yourself a favor and check out this great GQ.com guest spot by SLAM Editor-at-Large Lang Whitaker, which offers up 11 things you might not know about the Dallas Mavericks' second scoring option.) JET's always been a talkative, gregarious dude, and he's always seemed to perform best late in games, when the spotlight shines the brightest. His outsized personality has long made him an excellent fit next to the typically reserved, lower-register brilliance of Dirk Nowitzki, as good a complement at the post-game presser as he is in the pick-and-pop.

It also makes him basically the perfect guy for a public relations team to have on-call in the aftermath of a championship. Given the opportunity to fill a sound vacuum, JET will; given the opportunity to fill airtime, blank notebooks and audio recorders of media members eager to hear how the Mavs beat the Miami Heat to win the first NBA championship in franchise history, he will.

He'll gladly talk to just about anyone. Even us.

BDL caught up with JET via telephone on Friday afternoon to get a snapshot of what it's like in the hours and days after reaching the top of the mountain. Despite a scratchy, Tom Waits-y voice, Terry hung with us, talking about the experience of winning and reaching what he called "elite status." We also discussed his decision to auction off his Game 6 kicks for charity, recent rumblings that he wants the Mavericks to retire his number 31 after he hangs 'em up, finding the perfect pick-up opponent for the leader of the free world, and more.

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Congratulations, Jason — it's been a heck of a few days for you, I'd imagine.

Oh, unbelievable. My voice is one sign of what I'm going through right now, but it's an unreal feeling, man. A tremendous blessing.

Well, you've been puffing on cigars of late, and that can hurt your voice a bit, I understand. You were going pretty good with those around 11 yesterday.

(laughs) No question. Not only the cigars, but all the playing, all the yelling — not only throughout the playoffs [and] the final game, but then yesterday, the parade in front of all those fans … an unreal feeling, man. You definitely feel like a rock star. You can honestly wake up, every day for the rest of your life, and say you are a champion.

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At the celebration yesterday, you touched on the Mavericks' past. You said, "Brad Davis, [Rolando] Blackman, move over, there's some new jerseys coming to town," referring to the only two Mavericks to have their numbers retired. Most fans would say Dirk is an obvious choice for that kind of honor, but if I'm somebody who doesn't follow the game that closely, explain to me: Why does Jason Terry belong in that conversation? What have you brought to the Mavericks over the years that you feel puts you in that same kind of category?

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Well, first of all, I've bought into the community — you know, I've really embraced Dallas as my own. It really feels like home. The fans, they've taken a liking to me — a genuine care for everything I do, all the hard work, all the energy I put into going out and making it real for them. You know, I'm always available; I'll sign every autograph. So it's more of a tribute to them than for me.

To see my jersey go up there … a guy that has sacrificed so much by coming to Dallas and over the years, all the hard work we put in to try to be champions, and then to be the only point guard to take their team to the Finals in '05-'06, but to finally get there this year and win it? Sixth Man of the Year two years ago — [and] should've been the last three years? (laughs) You know what? I'm very humble, I'm a hungry guy, but sometimes you got to toot your own horn. And if it means telling them, "Move over, Ro, move over, Brad Davis," then that's what you got to do.

Just to follow up on that: You got your jersey retired at Franklin, back in high school. You had a phenomenal career at Arizona, but there have been some issues with having your jersey retired there. What would mean more to you moving forward — the opportunity to be recognized for your college career at Arizona, where you won a national title and earned All-American honors, or in Dallas, with what you've meant to that franchise?

Well, first of all, I've stepped into elite status now as a professional athlete. I've won in high school — a championship, two of 'em. College — the national championship in '97. A gold medal at the Goodwill Games. And now, an NBA championship. So right there in itself, I mean, I don't care what happens; I'm really a champion. College would be great — you know, obviously, my career at Arizona, I love those people — but to do it right here in Dallas, man, it would be phenomenal. Phenomenal.

You've got this charity auction that you're working on — tell me a little bit more about that and how some of our readers might be able to get involved.

Well, you know, two or three weeks ago, my shoe — not my face — was on the cover of Sports Illustrated

That had to hurt you, by the way, that it was your shoe and not your face. That had to hurt your heart a little bit. Don't lie.

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I know. But knowing that nobody in the world wears those high socks and nobody else wears the coolest shoe in America, the Reebok Zig Slash … nobody has those ones. Those were custom-made by myself. So I knew it was me, even if everybody else might not have.

But anyway, we wanted to give the fans a piece of history. You know, to be able to do what I did in Game 6 — 27 points in a closeout fashion, to win the world championship — we wanted to make it special for the fans and for the great people in the community. So all the proceeds from the auction will go to the Jason Terry Foundation and you know what, it's just been unbelievable what Reebok has done. They came up with the idea. [Fans] can go to Reebok.com, bid on it and get your piece of Mavericks history from the NBA Finals.

Obviously, it's been a whirlwind few days since Sunday night. You've had a fantastic career and you've been looking forward to the opportunity to grab this brass ring for so long — what's been the most surprising thing about the aftermath of becoming a champion? I'm sure you've thought about it a million different ways, but has anything caught you by surprise over the course of the past week?

The surprise to me is just that the feeling hasn't really set in yet. You know, when I won in college in '97, instantly — right after that game, when you win — the crowd goes crazy, they rush the court and you know right then, at the moment. But we were in Miami. You think everyone will jump up and down, jump on the net, cut the nets down, but it really wasn't like that. So I don't know if it'll be when I meet [President Barack] Obama later on this fall or when I get my ring at the ceremony that the feelings will finally set in.

When you get the opportunity to meet the president, will you be looking to get out on the court with him at any point?

You know what? I'm going to put that on somebody else. I'mma let my teammate handle it. None other than Mark Cuban's gonna challenge the president of the United States to a one-on-one game. He and Mark Cuban at the White House.

That would be very interesting, no doubt about it. There was quite a bit of attention paid to the tattoo that you got of the Larry O'Brien Trophy prior to the season; it became a topic of conversation over the past couple of weeks. As you go through the photos from after Game 6 and during the celebration and parade yesterday, it becomes clear that you've been showing it off quite a bit. Basically, there's been a lot of flexing going on.

Has there been any soreness stemming from the flexing? Have you been doing anything to keep the biceps loose? Heat? Ice?

(laughs) Man, nothing could hurt this arm at this point, with this feeling. You know what? I told 'em before the series — I was blatantly honest. I said, "This thing will hurt worse if I have to take it off than it did putting it on." We knew what was at stake, man, and I loved every moment of it, and again, God is good. There was a reason that I put this thing on in preseason — and it wasn't right before the Finals, this was in preseason — and the reason was my faith in this team.

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