Monday, June 13, 2011
Jason Kidd: It's a dream come true
By Calvin Watkins
MIAMI -- When the final buzzer was about to sound, Jason Kidd wanted the one thing point guards love to have: the basketball.
Standing near the scorers table, Kidd got the ball for the final dribbles of the 2010-11 season. The Dallas Mavericks knocked off the Miami Heat in six games, winning the final one 105-95 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night.
Jason Kidd won his first NBA championship in his third trip to the Finals.
Kidd, a 17-year veteran, was smiling and hugging anybody he could.
"Man, it's a dream come true," Kidd said. "It's not real right now because just the battles against the Heat and understanding the journey, it's been a long journey for 17 years. I thought I had an opportunity in '03 to win a championship [with New Jersey], and I was on the other end. We lost to the Spurs."
In his third trip to the NBA Finals, Kidd finally got a championship. It's something all players seek when they enter this league, and Kidd, after getting there twice with the Nets, wasn't sure he would get here again.
But a midseason trade during the 2007-08 season changed things for him. The Mavericks sent a younger player, Devin Harris, to the Nets for Kidd in an eight-player deal. At first the deal didn't seem to work out for the Mavs with then-coach Avery Johnson. There was the game versus the San Antonio Spurs that season when Kidd was taken off the floor in the last 34 seconds of a loss.
"You have to talk to coach about that," Dirk Nowitzki told reporters at the time.
Kidd took the high road, saying he supported the decision. Still, a future Hall of Fame point guard taken off the floor in the closing moments of a game? Sounds crazy.
After Johnson was fired, Rick Carlisle came in and understood what he had in Kidd. He didn't have a player who was a scorer. He had a facilitator. An assist man who worked on his jumper just in case it was needed.
"His view of the game is so different, and he's savant-like," Carlisle said. "He's just been a thrill and a privilege to spend time with."
In these Finals, Kidd was the glue.
After Dwyane Wade and LeBron James had a little sparring session near the Mavericks bench in Game 2 after building a 15-point lead, it was Kidd who kept Jason Terry calm.
"Deuce is funny," said Terry, referring to Kidd by his jersey number. "He said being from Oakland, he said it brought out the GP in me. Everybody knows who GP is, Gary Payton. One of my idols. A good friend."
Terry sparked the dramatic rally that the Mavericks staged to win Game 2 on the road.
On Sunday night, when Nowitzki struggled with his shot (he was 4-for-19 after three quarters), Kidd got into the head of the Finals MVP and told him to keep going.
In the fourth quarter, Nowitzki made 5-of-8 shots, scoring only one fewer point in the fourth than Dwyane Wade and LeBron James combined.
"We just kept playing," Kidd said. "That just shows the character of this team. No matter how old you are, we understood how to play the game, by passing the ball and making sure that we didn't take shots where three or four guys are on you. We just made the extra pass. We didn't care who put the ball in the basket."