Jason Kidd Q&A after trade

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Posted: Feb. 19, 2008

A limo brought Jason Kidd and the newest Mavericks to American Airlines Center after landing at Love Field on Mark Cuban’s private plane early Tuesday afternoon. Kidd met with Avery Johnson before doing this first interview in Dallas. He sat down with Mavs.com before his introductory press conference and first practice.

Kidd discussed his title hopes, his career and his new teammates. He also talked about his first stint in Dallas in the mid-1990s, when he played alongside Jamal Mashburn and Jimmy Jackson to form the short-lived Three J’s.

Kidd is wearing No. 2 for a couple reasons. It not only symbolizes a second chance with the Mavs, but in a strange way it looks like his old No. 5. (He added that he wasn’t about to ask Josh Howard to change numbers.)

Mavs.com: Talk about your emotions after this trade finally went down.

Jason Kidd: “I was excited to have this opportunity, this second opportunity, to come back, just because I thought the first time around it wasn’t a fair shot. The average age [of that team] might have been 22, 23 years old. We were a lot of fun to watch, but we just didn’t understand how to win. And now understanding the fourth quarter, and six minutes left in the game, how to win, gives me a better opportunity and wisdom to help the Mavericks win.”

MC: How do you feel physically at this point of your career?

JK: “Coach asked me and I said I feel great. Mentally and physically I feel that I can do the things I did when I first came into the league. People may feel that I’ve lost a step, you have good days and bad days, but the biggest thing is just understanding my teammates. I’ve never had to score a lot of points for us to win. I always tried to make the game as easy as possible for my teammates to score. I’ve always been on a team with scorers, so they’ve been happy. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve understood to help the big guys rebound. I still love the challenge. The gamesmanship of going out against the other guys who might be faster, who might score a lot more, but taking that challenge and trying to slow them down. Also showing that you don’t have to score to be successful.”

MC: This move was done with an eye on a championship.

JK: “We’re in the elite group. They’ve had a lot of success the last couple years. I feel what I can bring is some mental toughness to show that you can bend, but not break. There always is a lot of basketball to be played, so I feel I can help them win. There are so many pieces – Josh, Dirk, Stack and the other guys on this team – and the two other guys – Antoine and Malik. Antoine brings something to the table defensively and can score. Malik brings his toughness and can score. I’m excited about this opportunity because the Mavericks have their eye on winning a championship. If you think that way, it spreads throughout the team and that’s the one thing that everybody is concentrating on.”

MC: That’s the one thing you want in your career .

JK: “That’s all I want – to win a championship. It’s not guaranteed, but you want to play for it. When you take the floor with the Mavericks, you’re on that path to win a championship.”

MC: Would you describe your career as successful or unfulfilled or a bit of both?

JK: “It’s been a successful career. Everybody feels that they are measured by championships, and you are, and I’ve been to the Big Dance twice, so I’ve had that opportunity and that’s the best feeling. There are 30 teams and only two teams at the end of the day. There is no bigger stage than that. To be able to do that is great. Unfortunately, there is only one winner. Nothing is promised, but when you have other guys on your team that are in the same fight, it makes coming to work a lot easier.”

MC: How much did you want to play with Dirk?

JK: “He’s one of the top players in this league. He’s the MVP. It shows his ability to play at a high level and when you have guys like that on a team, it brings everybody up to another level. Being around him, I can only hope that rubs off on me and he can elevate my game to another level.”

MC: Are you looking forward to throwing some of those lobs to Josh? JK: “I’m not sure where to throw them yet, but if they get up there, it’s up to them to catch it. They have the hardest part. If it’s not a lob, I’ll still find a way to get them the ball.”

MC: How do you look back at your first run through Dallas?

JK: “We made mistakes on and off the court. Being 21 and asked to carry a franchise, there is no class in college for that. You’re asking, 22, 23 and 21 [year olds] to somehow turn around a team that had struggled for so long and we had success. The first year we were right outside the playoff picture and we felt we were going in the right direction. Anytime there is a sale of a professional franchise, trouble arises because people are traded and management changes. A lot of that happened. Then we started to break apart due to outside influences and were never able to recover. Injuries played a part and we played without Jimmy for a long time, but if you ask the three of us if we could do it all over again, we would probably take a different path and not listen to the outside influences.”

MC: How has the franchise changed since you left?

JK: “You look at Don Carter, the Perots and then Cuban took over. Cuban gave it life. You would see him on TV sitting in the upper deck with those fans and showing his commitment to the people of Dallas. I was playing here when the Cowboys were winning Super Bowls and everyone was a Cowboys fan. And then the Stars were starting to have success. Fans are loyal to their sports franchises, so it’s just a matter of getting that winning attitude. We were inconsistent with it, so when he took over it showed his commitment and the people followed.”