PLANO -– Jason Terry said his point guard skills were in such shambles that it took some top-notch tutelage from Don Nelson and Avery Johnson to get him pointed in the right direction.
After the Mavs failed to re-sign free agent point guard Steve Nash in the summer of 2004, they acquired Terry in a trade from the Atlanta Hawks on Aug. 4, 2004. But Terry had never been to the playoffs in his five seasons with the Hawks, so his NBA game needed some polishing.
“Going from Atlanta to Dallas I hadn’t won (in the NBA), and I didn’t know what winning was,’’ Terry told the Star-Telegram on Monday. “All I knew was that I worked on my game.
“How do I implement that into a winning organization? I knew how to go out and get numbers and play, but when I got to Dallas I learned how to play the game.’’
Nelson coached Terry for 64 games of the 2004-’05 season before he stepped down in favor of
Johnson, who coached Terry for the last 18 games of the ’04-’05 season through the 2007-’08 campaign. The lessons Terry learned from Nelson and Johnson were invaluable.
“I give a lot of credit to Don Nelson and Avery Johnson,’’ Terry said. “They taught me how to play the point guard position and how to be an all-around basketball player.
“That growth and that maturation was my time in Dallas, and so what I did is I became a winner and I became a champion in Dallas. So now as a champion I’ll going to another championship organization and that transition will be a lot smoother.’’
Terry was the starting point guard when the Mavs advanced to the 2006 NBA Finals. And he was a key substitute off the bench when the Mavs captured their only NBA title in 2011.
But when the NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement severely hampered the Mavs’ chances at re-signing Terry, he inked a three-year, $15 million contract with the Boston Celtics last month. And now he’ll get an opportunity to pick up some pointers from Celtics coach Doc Rivers.
“I’ve still got things to learn,’’ Terry said. “Even at 34 I feel like going into their program I’m going
to learn some more stuff.
“That’s why I’m open-minded. I’m going in there mouth shut, eyes wide open.’’
-- Dwain Price
Follow me on Twitter