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Jason Kidd merits hero's welcome

DALLAS -- If you've got hard feelings for Jason Kidd due to his sloppy exit from Dallas, get over them.

That goes for Mark Cuban and every other Dallas Mavericks fan.

Get off your butts and give the man the standing ovation he deserves when the New York Knicks' starting lineup is announced Wednesday night at the American Airlines Center.

There wouldn't be an NBA championship banner in the rafters without Kidd. His clutch savvy and steady leadership were critical elements to the Mavericks' miraculous 2011 title run. Folks around these parts should forever treat Kidd like a hero, not a traitor -- at least when the sneakers aren't squeaking.

Kidd finished the job during his second stint in Dallas. So what if he didn't finish his surefire Hall of Fame career here?

"He left on great terms with me," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "I was super appreciative of everything he did for me and our organization when he was here. Guys at that point in their career, they have the right to do what they want to do. I could only wish him the best."

Added Dirk Nowitzki, who still texts and talks to Kidd occasionally: "He's a big part of bringing a championship here. I'm never a big fan of booing people. That's not how I envision sports, so hopefully he's going to get a nice ovation."

Of course, those thoughts don't necessarily represent what's on the mind of the billionaire who signs the checks. Cuban actually suggests that Kidd gets welcomed with cheers, but it doesn't sound like a few boos would bother him.

"Fans pay their money," Cuban said. "They can do whatever they want."

He says what's done is done now, but Cuban took it personally when Kidd decided he didn't want to be on the Mavs' payroll anymore, opting to sign a similar three-year offer in the $9 million range with the Knicks. Sorry, but an owner who made a calculated choice to part with several key pieces from a title team's core shouldn't take a player's business decision personally.

Sure, it's too bad that Kidd handled the situation in such sloppy fashion. This is a 39-year-old point guard whose cool under pressure played such a key role in the process that led to a long-awaited parade in downtown Dallas, yet he acted with the decisiveness of a teenage girl (or Dwight Howard) in free agency.

Kidd made his departure much more painful by promising to re-sign with the Mavs, only to change his mind after a round of golf. But that's not a good reason to hold a grudge.

It's just business.

Same as it was when Cuban didn't offer multi-year contracts to Tyson Chandler or J.J. Barea or Caron Butler after the lockout. Or when Cuban didn't make any real effort to keep Jason Terry last summer.

Or when Cuban traded Devin Harris for Kidd. Or when Cuban let Steve Nash walk. Or when Cuban used the amnesty clause on Michael Finley, whom Cuban actually encouraged Mavs fans to boo when he returned as a member of the rival San Antonio Spurs.

Really, how can you blame Kidd for his decision? At his age, he wants a legitimate chance to win a championship. His odds are better with the Knicks than the Mavs.

And the Mavs are better off without him. Maybe they'd win more games with Kidd starting at point guard instead of Darren Collison, who sizzled at the start of the season but has mostly struggled since, but Kidd's return wasn't going to make this team a title contender.

It was going to tempt Carlisle to cling to the past instead of moving on to the future, which means giving Collison and O.J. Mayo a full shot to prove they can be part of the franchise's foundation in the future.

(For the record, Cuban insists the Mavs still would have traded for Collison if Kidd returned. So they wouldn't have had the cap space to sign Mayo? The most encouraging thing about the .500 Mavs right now is the spectacular shooting of Mayo, the seventh-leading scorer in the league.)

To his credit, Cuban has basically bitten his tongue about Kidd since venting on ESPN Dallas 103.3's "Ben and Skin Show" this summer. Cuban isn't taking back his statement about having no plans to ever hang Kidd's No. 2 from the rafters, but he won't elaborate on it, either.

There's plenty of time for Cuban to back off that silly stance and rightfully honor Kidd for all of eternity.

For now, while Carlisle and Nowitzki continue to rave about Kidd, Cuban is a man of few words when it comes to the old point guard.

"He helped us win a championship," Cuban said. "Period. End of story."

That's a story worth applauding when Kidd makes his only stop in Dallas this season.