DALLAS – Jason Eugene Terry will be back at American Airlines Center Friday night for the first time since he left the Dallas Mavericks last summer to sign a three-year, $15.675 million free agent contract with the Boston Celtics.
And there’s at least four overzealous Mavericks fans who hope the Jet will receive the royal treatment from the sellout crowd that’ll be on hand when Dallas (32-36) faces the Celtics (36-31) at 7:30 p.m.
"I hope they give him a standing ovation,’’ owner Mark Cuban said. "He deserves it.
"He’ll be a Maverick for life. He’s part of the family.’’
Terry played for the Mavericks from 2004 until last summer when he and Cuban couldn’t agree on a contract that would have kept him in Dallas for what he wanted to be the remainder of his career. Still, the two have remained friends as Cuban has already said he plans to retire Terry’s No. 31 jersey and hang it in the AAC rafters once he retires.
"I keep in touch with Jet some because our families developed a closeness because our daughters were in the same class together in school,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said. "He’s Mavericks royalty -- that’s clear.
"He’s one of the most beloved players, I think, in the history of this franchise because of his personality, his relationship with the fans and the community, and he was a great player, and he was a prime-time great player in the clutch. Guys like that always distinguish themselves, so it’ll be emotional I’m sure for him and I’m sure for the fans and for some of us that got to know him well.’’
Terry never wanted to leave the Mavericks, and tried to the bitter end to receive a suitable contract to remain in Dallas.
"They wanted to go in a different direction -- that's part of the business,’’ Terry said. "You’re not always going to like it, but it is what it is.
"I had a great time in Dallas, and I still have a lot of friends and people I care about there, both in the city and within the organization. But that's part of my past.’’
Cuban also has promised Terry a job within the Mavericks’ organization once his playing days are over.
"Basketball is a short part of your life, and then there’s the rest of your life,’’ Cuban said. "Hopefully, we’ll be part of Jet’s (life) after he retires.’’
Terry worked his way into the good graces of the Mavericks and became one of the team’s pop stars in 2006 when he was the first point guard to lead the Mavericks to the NBA Finals. Terry’s popularity reached a crescendo in 2011 when he was a valuable piece off the bench to the Mavericks’ championship puzzle.
"On and off the floor he was a great ambassador for the city, always busy in the community every day,’’ forward Dirk Nowitzki said. "And on the floor we all know what he meant to us.
"One of the best clutch shooters I’ve played with. Obviously he was a big reason why we won the championship a couple of years ago, and he deserves a big ovation.’’
Forward Shawn Marion is in complete agreement with Nowitzki, Carlisle and Cuban.
"It should be a great standing ovation for him,’’ Marion said. "He played a big part in us winning the championship, and we’ve got a bond together for life.
"They know that here in the valley, and that’s all that matters.’’
Marion can’t wait to see Terry flash that championship smile tonight. The only lingering question is whether or not some tears will be shed.
"He didn’t leave here with any problems,’’ Marion said of Terry. "It’s just happened that he wasn’t able to extend his deal here and he went to Boston and started a new career.
"But at the same time he’s got a piece of that championship banner in there, so that’s all I need to say.’’
Forward Shawn Marion will play Friday night after missing the past eight games with a strained left calf.
"I still feel it a little bit, but it’s not enough to hold me back,’’ Marion said. "Doing all that cardio on the side is not fun.
"My wind doesn’t feel bad right now. I’m good at telling coach I’m tired, bring me out.’’
The Mavericks were 5-3 during Marion’s absence.