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NBA champion Jason Terry just wrapped up his first season as a head coach in the G League with the Grand Rapids Gold – an affiliate of the Denver Nuggets.
Terry played 19 seasons in the NBA with the Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Houston Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks before calling it quits after the 2017-18 season. He won a championship when he was with the Mavericks in 2011 and was the 2008-09 Sixth Man of the Year award winner.
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He served as an assistant coach at his alma mater in Arizona before taking the Gold’s job at the start of the 2021-22 season. The Gold finished with a 17-15 record, just missing out on the playoffs.
Terry, who recently became the head of athletic performance for FlexIt, opened up to Fox News Digital about his foray into the coaching world. He said some of the challenges about coaching in the G League are the players going back and forth between the team and the NBA.
“The biggest challenge we face is having to integrate new guys into your system, into your team, into your family on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. The roster changes and turns over and you have to have the ability to adapt and adjust and also keep the guys happy that are on your team knowing somebody else is coming in, taking their opportunity away from them for the moment. Being able to put guys into different roles, so to speak,” he said. “I think that was one of the biggest challenges I faced and I thought we did a particularly good job of it.
“The G League is a developmental league designed to give guys an opportunity to showcase their talent to get called up to the next level. We had a tremendous success with that this season, having almost eight guys get called up this year to the big leagues.”
For guys who bounce back and forth between the G League and getting the call-up to the NBA, Terry said it was important for him as a coach to really hone in on their abilities and narrow down what they want to accomplish.
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“In the first conversation with guys of that magnitude is kind of like, why do you do this? Once we figure out what your ‘why’ is, who are you? Who are you as a person? Who are you as a player? What is it that you do, that unique skill set that you bring, that unique talent that you bring to the table that no one else does? OK, let’s tap into that and then let’s get you the best at that. And what’re your weaknesses? Whatever you weaknesses are, we’ll develop and we’ll work on those,” Terry explained.
“Again, rely on your strengths, work on your weaknesses and really tap into who you are as a player. And then, what are your habits? Are you a worker? If you’re not, we need to change that because to get to where you want to be in life, not just in basketball, you have to be dedicated. You have to be committed to your craft. And I think a lot of guys struggle with that from time to time. They get distracted for whatever reason, but if they stay locked in and stay steadfast to their dream, they can achieve anything.”
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Terry gave credit to some of the coaches he’s played for – like Rick Carlisle, Avery Johnson and Jason Kidd just to name a few – who helped him instill his mentality when it comes to leading a team from a coaching standpoint. He said his high school coach also had a major impact.
“My high school coach Ron Drayton instilled discipline in me as a high school player my sophomore year of high school. You knew he had zero tolerance. Every time we stepped onto the floor it was about business,” Terry told Fox News Digital. “He was a defensive-oriented, defensive-minded coach. He could care less what you did offensively. It was all about defense and holding you accountable.
“I think Johnson was similar. They called him the little general for a reason. Playing the point guard position, the same position he played, he demanded and expected a lot out of his point guards. And I was just blessed and fortunate to be a part of the team when he was given his opportunity and he poured into me, man. He really poured into me as a basketball player, as a man, as a husband, as a father. And without his guidance and mentorship, I couldn’t honestly say I’d be able to be a head coach in this league.”
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Terry said he has taken what he’s learned as a player from some of the great head coaches he’s had and attempts to instill that in his coaching and game planning with the Gold.
“There’s so many life lessons that I’ve learned along the way from the various coaches, game-planning, how to manage people. A lot of what I do as a coach now is from what I’ve seen as a player and from the coaches that have guided me along the way,” he said. “My system is very similar to that of an Avery Johnson. How I manage the game is very similar to Jason Kidd. How I interact with my players is very similar to a Jason Kidd but how I strategically plan is that of a Rick Carlisle
“I take bits and pieces of every and each coach that I’ve come in contact with, not to mention the late great Lute Olson, who had me when I was just a pup at the University of Arizona. His ability to connect with his players and make it a brotherhood and hold you accountable is something that is a characteristic I also embody into my team.”
Nik Stauskas, Isaiah Thomas, Matt Ryan, Lance Stephenson and Davon Reed were among those who were called up from the Gold this season. Stauskas, Thomas and Reed each had two call-ups.
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Terry partnered with FlexIt earlier this season to offer virtual solutions for those looking to get fit but don’t have access to a personal trainer. Terry said he and the Gold have both worked with FlexIt in hopes of continuing to impact the community.