MIAMI _ When Jason Kidd led the New Jersey Nets to back-to-back trips to the NBA Finals in 2002 and ’03, he thought that was going to be the beginning on a long run to pro basketball’s greatest show.
But it Kidd eight years – and a trade to the Dallas Mavericks – to get back to the Finals. And that’s mot exactly the way Kidd envisioned things unfolding.
“After those two (in ’02 and ’03) I thought we were going to go on a roll in Jersey and make it three or four in a row,’’ Kidd said. “But teams change and the game changes in a sense.
“So once I got traded to Dallas I just knew at some point I thought it would be a lot sooner that I would get back to the Finals. Sometimes things just don’t work out that way.’’
In Kidd’s first three seasons with the Mavs after the trade from New Jersey, Dallas got knocked out of the playoffs in the first round twice and advanced to the second round once.
Now, the Mavs are four wins away from winning the franchise’s first NBA title. And Kidd can’t wait until those four victories are in the bag, although Kidd never thought it would take this long to get back on the NBA’s grandest stage.
“You have great teams in this league like the Lakers and the Celtics and San Antonio, who were all winning championships,’’ Kidd said. “It didn’t work out.
“But now we’re here, and hopefully we can find a way to win a championship.’’
Nowitzki’s decision was to stay with the Mavs
While LeBron James did a live broadcast – named The Decision – on ESPN last summer to announce that he was leaving Cleveland to sign a free agent contract with the Heat, Dirk Nowitzki was taking low-key approach to announce that he was re-signing with the Mavs.
Nowitzki said Monday that he never really seriously considered leaving the Mavs.
“Ultimately that’s where my heart was at,’’ Nowitzki said. “I almost felt like we had unfinished business after ’06.’’
In ’06, the Mavs lost to the Heat in the Finals in six games after taking a 2-0 lead in that series. Nowitzki said owner Mark Cuban assured him that he would surround him with championship-type players, and he was true to his word.
“(I) had a great meeting with Mark,’’ Nowitzki said. “All I needed was reassurance that he was going to keep going and keep building around this team, and keep putting all his resources for us to hopefully be up there one day.
“We’re here again at the big stage. Hopefully we can turn it around this year and finish strong.’’
Marion and Wade are close – real close
The offseason homes of Mavs forward Shawn Marion and Heat guard Dwyane Wade are in the same Chicago neighborhood. Thus, with the two players going at each other in the Finals, putting friendships aside has become a top priority.
“It’s all business now,’’ Marion said. “We’re competitors.
“We separate being friends and going out and being enemies on the floor. We have respect for each other. When we get on the floor it’s the Miami Heat against the Dallas Mavericks.’’
Marion actually is a former teammate of Wade after playing with the Heat for parts of the 2007-’08 and ’08-’09 seasons. So he has mixed emotions about going against his former team.
“Of course I’m here playing now,’’ Marion said. “It’s a different feeling for me.’’
Chandler don’t feel Heat should be favored
Center Tyson Chandler took exception to the fact that a lot of folks think the Heat are overwhelmingly better than the Mavs.
“I don’t feel that way, because they’ve said that every series,’’ Chandler said. “The Portland Trail Blazes, that was a team that was going to be too rugged, too disciplined and (would) knock us out.
“In the Laker series that was a team with too much experience. No way we were going to knock out the back-to-back champs (and) we swept them.’’
And then came the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals.
“In the Oklahoma City series, a young team running and gunning,’’ Chandler said. “They may be too much for us.
“We all know what happened there.’’
Terry and Bibby renewed old times
Mavs guard Jason Terry and Heat guard Mike Bibby were teammates on the Arizona team that captured the 1997 NCAA championship. Now, one of them will add an NBA title to their resume.
“We did something special in ’97 and now one of us has an opportunity to do something special again,’’ Terry said. “So something’s got to give.’’
Terry talked to Bibby prior to the Mavs arriving in Miami on Sunday.
“It was quick,’’ Terry said. “Let me get some tickets when I get to Miami. Other than that it’s business as usual.
“I’m going to love him, I’m going to give him a hug after we meet again here tomorrow. But after that it’s time to strap it up and let’s hit it.’’
Jones simulating James in practice
Although the Mavs have had a committee of players attempting to simulate LeBron James in practice, rookie Dominique Jones and Corey Brewer have done most of the heavy-lifting.
“Those guys have done a terrific job,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said. “You are trying to simulate a guy that's many would argue is unsimulatable.
“They have done a great job in Dominique is a kind of guy because of his ball-handling abilities and the ability to penetrate, he’s given us a good go the last couple of days.’’
_ Dwain Price
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