I'm at American Airlines Center witnessing something I thought I’d never see -- no, not this guy in concert, but, of course, Jason Kidd back in a Dallas Mavericks tank top. After the most dramatic trade in NBA history finally went down, Jason Kidd is here and will practice with his new team-old team today and likely play in tomorrow night’s game against the Hornets in New Orleans. (He won’t make his Dallas debut until Monday night against the Bulls.) Weird.
Kidd was just in The Big Easy two days ago as a New Jersey Net starting for the Eastern Conference All-Stars. Wednesday he’ll return as a member of the Western Conference Mavericks. Fitting, because everything about this ordeal has been strange.
I was the Mavs beat writer at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram when Kidd arrived for his first practice at former owner Don Carter’s old Home Furnishings employee gym in North Dallas in 1994. I remember the Mavericks ringing in their new Three J’s Era by handing out caps signed by the Kidd, Jim Jackson and Jamal Mashburn. Still have mine, in fact. Hello, eBay!
After generating a huge uptick in popularity and play and becoming the first Mav to start an All-Star Game, in 1996, Kidd got crossways with Jackson -- and, sorry, but it wasn’t over Toni Braxton, but because both were young and dumb and talented and rich and wanted the spotlight. Their feud during the 1995-'96 season wrecked a team that flirted with the playoffs the previous year, fatigued coach Dick Motta and ultimately prompted a fed-up Carter to sell the franchise to Ross Perot Jr., who later sold to Mark Cuban, who has now re-acquired Kidd.
That, my friends, is the circle of life.
When he was traded the day after Christmas back in ’96, after earlier that year issuing an ultimatum that either he or Jackson be dealt, Kidd told me, “I’ll haunt this franchise every time I can, for as long as I can.” He was violently booed in his early returns to Reunion as a Phoenix Sun, but likely will get a standing ovation come Monday night. Surreal, I say.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Kidd and his game and Dallas’ “right here, right now” approach in bringing him in. I just think the Mavs overpaid for a 35-year-old point guard. With Kidd’s arrival, patience is immediately replaced by urgency. If Kidd doesn’t bring a championship to Dallas -- this year or next -- this trade will be perceived as a colossal flop. In fact, might it be the biggest one-sided sports trade since another Dallas team duped someone into clearing their cupboard for this dude? --Richie Whitt