Dunk History: LeBron James takes flight, sends JET to crash landing

Ball Don't Lie

As the summer wears on, with training camps and preseason play still off in (what feels like) the distant future, we turn our attention to the past. Join us as we while away a few late-summer moments recalling some of the most scintillating slams of yesteryear, the most thunderous throwdowns ever to sear themselves into our memories. This is Dunk History.

Today, Ben Rohrbach revisits the night LeBron James finally silenced Jason Terry forever.

Not long after a national TV broadcast of the carnage, Jason Terry’s obituary was posted to Wikipedia.

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“On March 18, 2013, Terry was killed by NBA forward LeBron James at the TD Bank Garden," the entry read. "The cause of death is being viciously dunked on.” 

Not to worry. Despite his penchant for funeral garb, Terry is alive and well. But the vet whose initials spell “JET” is forever scarred from a crash landing two years ago.

Terry drew James’ disdain during the 2003-04 season, when the then-Atlanta Hawks guard flagrantly fouled the Cleveland Cavaliers' No. 1 overall draft pick. It reached a fever pitch as Terry trash-talked the Miami Heat as a member of the Dallas Mavericks during the 2011 NBA Finals, including a not-so-veiled shot at LeBron’s defense in the Sun-Sentinel after Game 3:

Terry is shooting just 38.2 percent, and hasn't made a shot when LeBron James has been guarding him in the fourth quarter.

"I'm welcoming the challenge," Terry said of James. "We're going to see if he can do it for seven games."

Terry walked the walk, too, scoring 65 points over the final three games, including 22 in a trio of fourth quarters, as Dallas completed a comeback to capture the title.

Flash forward two years, and James had a ring of his own, but his distaste for Terry remained. So when JET arrived in Boston, home of another rival to LeBron, the reigning MVP must’ve circled March 18, 2013, on his calendar. The NBA certainly did, as ESPN got the broadcast of a showdown between his Heat, who were riding a 22-game win streak, and a surging Celtics squad that had won 11 straight at home.

Midway through the second quarter, the C’s were riding high, establishing a double-digit lead on a team they had taken to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals nine months earlier. As Ball Don’t Lie’s own Dan Devine described at the time, the Heat then turned up the defensive pressure, and Dwyane Wade poked the ball loose from Terry, setting up a three-on-one that left JET as an offering to the basketball gods:

LeBron finished Norris Cole’s alley-oop like few have ever flushed a dunk, and a contesting Terry — God save his soul — was helpless to stop a man who outweighed him by 75 pounds and could out-leap him by the equivalent of several tall buildings.

In the aftermath, James stood over a lifeless Terry — earning a technical foul for taunting — before sauntering away without ever saying a word. His knowing stare into the distance of the Garden suggested he knew he’d silenced Terry forever.

 

DeAndre Jordan, whose alley-oop over Brandon Knight rivaled LeBron’s hammer for everybody’s Dunk of the Year honor, was one of thousands to take notice on Twitter:

Terry shot the tech, negating LeBron’s and-one, and Boston briefly pushed its lead back to 15. But the message was sent, and it didn’t take long for the Heat to establish a lead they never relinquished on their way to a 105-103 win — their 23rd straight.

"It was one of my better ones," James told the Sun-Sentinel at the time. "And the fact that it happened to J.T. made it even that much sweeter. Because I think we all know what J.T. talks, and he talks too much sometimes and I'm glad it happened to him."

The Celtics never recovered, losing 11 of their final 15 games before their earliest playoff exit in years. That summer, Terry’s remains were traded along with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets, signaling the end of an era in Boston. Meanwhile, Miami stretched its win streak to 27 before capturing a second straight title, and LeBron cemented his legacy with another MVP and Finals MVP sweep. 

Terry’s body was identified by the leprechaun tattoo on his left bicep, and he is survived by a “Six Feet Under” meme he approved on WEEI from the afterlife.

“I've dunked on so many guys in this league, and the way social media is today, it's just unbelievable," Terry said. "I did get a kick out of the one when I was in the coffin and the pallbearers were KG and Paul Pierce. It's all in fun and it's all in the spirit of the sport."

LeBron James delivers Jason Terry's eulogy. (Tumblr)
LeBron James delivers Jason Terry's eulogy. (Tumblr)

In lieu of flowers, please donate to The Poster Victims of King James Relief Fund. It’s important to raise awareness that Terry is not alone in his battle against a tyrant.

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Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don't Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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