By Ben Golliver | NBA Blogger
Jason Terry's mouth is ready to back up the guarantee that his latest tattoo suggests.
Last week, we noted that the new Celtics guard modified his tattoo of the Larry O'Brien trophy to include Boston's leprechaun logo. Terry, of course, got the original NBA championship trophy tattoo prior to the Dallas Mavericks' run to the 2011 title.
Was the tattoo addition his way of guaranteeing a 2013 title for the Celtics? Duh. Of course it was.
WEEI.com reports that the always brash and confident Terry has officially guaranteed that the Celtics will be the 2012-13 NBA champions.
"There's the lucky leprechaun," he told WBZ-TV's Steve Burton during an interview Thursday at Canton's Reebok Headquarters that will air Sunday night on Sports Final, "and he's spinning the Larry O'Brien trophy, which we will win this year."
"If I looked at our team and what they accomplished last year, they're one game away. They're one game away from going back to the NBA Finals, and I think they win it. This year, put a little ‘Jet Fuel' into the mix, and I think we have the team."
He furthered that sentiment in speaking with the Boston Herald.
"Where I'm at right now in my career — I can't speak for the other guys — but where I'm at in my career, it's about winning championships, and I got the taste. They let me taste it. They should've never let me taste it. And I got one, but as you know, the Celtics, they're going for No. 18. And so I'm a big basketball fanatic. I'm a historian. I love the game, a student of the game. So I know what it means to put that uniform on. So I think we've got a good opportunity this year to win again."
Terry's swagger, surely, is music to the ears of Celtics fans. Maxing out confidence and expectations is the only way things can be done for a franchise with Boston's history and with a roster that's fully committed to winning now rather than building for the future. It's a smart way for Terry, who signed with Boston back in July, to make a good first impression.
His assessment isn't totally off-base either. Thanks to an eletric few months from LeBron James, a time that has seen him win his first NBA title and his second Olympics gold medal while capturing regular season and Finals MVP awards, it's easy to forget that his back was against the wall in TD Garden, the Heat down 3-2 in the Eastern Conference finals. Indeed, it took a legendary performance from James in Game 6 to push the series back to Miami, where the Heat were essentially held even by the Celtics for three quarters before they finally pulled away in stunning fashion the fourth.
Had Chris Bosh not returned from an abdominal injury just in the nick of time, had James not put on that legendary performance, had one or two Celtics entered that series in slightly better health... the what if's are seemingly endless for a Boston team that has been one of the league's most successful playoff teams over the last five years. They're always there, lurking, even after being written off multiple times.
Next year's Celtics will be a new-look group thanks to the departure of Ray Allen and the addition of Terry, Courtney Lee and rookies Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo. Jeff Green is also expected back after missing the entire 2011-12 following heart surgery. That, plus the evergreen trio of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo and the return of promising young guard Avery Bradley, puts the Celtics back into the mix once again.
On paper, Miami is still the clear favorite in the Eastern Conference. The Indiana Pacers (everybody important is back), Brooklyn Nets (a totally re-tooled roster), Chicago Bulls (assuming Derrick Rose returns sooner rather than later) and the Philadelphia 76ers (with the addition of Andrew Bynum) all loom as teams that could compete for homecourt advantage. But none of those teams, at least right now, would seem to give Miami as many problems as Boston.
Don't be surprised if the Heat's path to the Larry O'Brien trophy runs through Terry and the Celtics, just as he's predicting, and don't overlook how close the 2011 East finals really were. The Celtics might not be one of the three consensus title favorites -- the Heat plus the two obvious Western Conference powers, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder -- but they will need to be accounted for, once again.
Here we go again. Last year it was Mickael Pietrus who made the same prediction and this year it's Terry.