Mike Lupica may have put it the best on the Sports Reporters last Sunday. The 2011 NBA Finals were supposed to be LeBron’s big chance. How many more chances were there going to be for Dirk Nowitzki? How about how many chances were there going to be left for Jason Kidd in his Hall of Fame career? The seventeen year NBA veteran had seen it all during his time with the Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns and New Jersey Nets. He’d come close to reaching the top of the mountain, but ultimately fell short of winning it all on two separate occasions when the Nets were easily dismissed by the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs in the Finals. Although he denies the notion that he felt like he would never win an NBA title towards the end of his career, I’m sure the thought crept into this mind at the start of this season.
There is something to be said for an NBA veteran point guard grinding it out for as long as Kidd has, only to finally be awarded the trophy he has worked so tirelessly for. Kidd really learned the value of patience and he was just one of the many members of this Dallas Mavericks team that helped contribute to the feel good vibe they brought out during these NBA playoffs. Kidd feels he still has a few good years left in him and in the following interview with Mike Lupica he gives his take on how LeBron James played during the NBA Finals as well.
Jason Kidd joined ESPN Radio New York with The Mike Lupica Show to discuss getting used to being an NBA Champion, his expectations before the Mavericks took on the Lakers in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs, LeBron James’s passive play during the Finals, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James finding a way to be more compatible and complimentary in the future, his fear of not being able to win an NBA Championship before he retired, and how long he will continue to play in the future.
I was just saying World Champion Jason Kidd. I’m sure you’re probably tired of hearing that already?
“No. I can’t stop hearing it. I’m happy to hear it finally after 17 years.”
Let’s back up for a second and take a look back. What were your expectations before you played the Lakers in the playoffs?
“You are playing the two-time defending NBA champions. We knew we were going to be in a dog fight. We just thought the big thing was to try to find a way to get a win on the road in Los Angeles and when we were down sixteen in the game one and we found a way to win. We just felt that let’s get greedy and see if we can win another one. We found a way to win two games in Los Angeles. We just said ‘Hey maybe it’s our time to keep continuing to believe in one another, but also just keep trying to play the game of basketball that way.’ “
You guarded LeBron James for part of this series. What did you see from him? Were you surprised about how passive he looked at times especially in the 4th quarter?
“I think with LeBron’s game he has the total package. Everybody I think is looking for him to score 30 points a night. He’s very unselfish. He makes his teammates better. He fills up a stat sheet. I just think with our scheme was sometimes double team him and sometimes don’t. If he makes a shot just contest because him and D-Wade are going to score. We just tried to make it tough and make them work on both ends.”
Are you one of those people who believes that Wade and LeBron in the long run aren’t as compatible down the road as we had originally thought?
“Well this is year one for these guys, so I wouldn’t rush to…I wouldn’t say they are going to panic. I think look they made it to the NBA Finals. They are going to be back there again. They are very talented and this is only gonna make them hungrier and a new attitude that they can win a championship together, so I think sometimes you have to be patient. It just doesn’t happen overnight.”
Did you think at the age of 38 that this day might not come where you would be an NBA champion?
“No this is what I put the uniform on for is to try to win a championship. You start in October and the journey will take you up-and-down and sometimes it’ll make yourself question what I am still doing playing? Cause I don’t think it’s going to happen, but that’s the time you have to dig deeper and work harder and that’s what I did this season.”
It sounds like from listening to your interviews the other night you think you’re going to be around for a little while?
“I do. I feel great. Mentally and physically I feel I can still…I have a lot to give to the game. I love the competition. This is a kids game. Being thirty-eight I think the media made more about it. I might not be as fast as I was when I was twenty-one or twenty-two, but I still feel the knowledge of the game I still have the advantage because I’ve seen almost everything. That’s the only I can rely on is anticipation and understanding my opponent.”