The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame will induct its 2018 class this Friday during a ceremony in Springfield, Massachusetts. While the basketball Hall of Fame ceremony always seems to lack the sizzle or nationwide buzz of the football or baseball Hall of Fame, this weekend’s festivities may carry a bit more interest for Mavs fans.
Looking back at the history of the inductees, the amount of Dallas Mavericks involvement in the Hall of Fame is best described as “little to none” unless you count when the voters generously included a pair of former Mavs centers in Spencer Haywood and Louie Dampier with the rest of the 2015 class. Did I get that wrong? Whoops.
In all seriousness, looking back at the list of inductees since the inaugural class of 1960, Dennis Rodman’s induction back in 2011 seems to be the only player with time as a Maverick. “Time as a Maverick” for Rodman is defined as a 12 game stint during the 1999-2000 season where he tried to wear the number 69, but had to settle for 70. He was in it to win it.
On the coaching side, legendary coach Don Nelson was enshrined in 2012 and he picked up a lot of wins as Mavs coach from 1998-2005.
The players involvement will increase this weekend when the 2018 class of Charlie Scott, Dino Rada, “Queen of Tennis” Ora Washington, Tina Thompson, Katie Smith, Ray Allen, Grant Hill, Steve Nash and Jason Kidd cement their places in basketball history as they are inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Steve Nash and Jason Kidd had long, successful careers in the NBA that both featured multiple teams. While both played vital roles on incredibly important times in Mavericks’ history — Nash with Dallas’ rise to a contender in the early 2000s and Kidd with being the starting point guard for the franchise’s lone title season in 2011– no one could really argue that either was the best version of themselves when they were in Dallas. That definitely does not diminish their places in Mavericks history.
Overall Career: 14.3 PPG, 8.5 APG, 49% FG%, 43% 3P%, 2x NBA Most Valuable Player (2005, 2006), 8x All-Star, 3x All-NBA First Team (2005-2007)
With Dallas (1998-2004): 14.6 PPG, 7.2 APG, 47% FG%, 42% 3P%, 2x All-Star (2002-2003), 2x All-NBA Third Team (2002-2003)
The greatest selling point on Steve Nash’s impact on the Mavericks franchise might just be looking at the state of it when he arrived versus when he left. He and Dirk Nowitzki arrived in Dallas the same summer and of course had that iconic introductory press conference with Don Nelson where the duo had quintessentially awful 90s haircuts. That trio plus Michael Finley helped take the team from the laughingstock of the NBA in the 1990s to a perennial contender by the time Nash left via free agency in the summer of 2004.
I first became basketball-conscious in the 2001/2002 range when the Mavs’ “Big Three” of Nowitzki/Nash/Finley was in full effect. I loved watching Nash coming off of screens and making magic happen. His running one-legged shot in the paint. The slicking back of his signature long hair and then licking his finger tips before a free throw. There’s a generation of Mavericks fans who were first introduced to basketball with seeing Nash as the point guard of their teams for several years.
I think it’s safe to say that Steve Nash wasn’t perceived as a potential future Hall of Famer when he left the Mavericks in the summer of 2004, or was not offered to stay by Mark Cuban, I should say. Nash was a very, very solid, top ten point guard when he signed with the Phoenix Suns in 2004. He went on to win MVPs in each of his first two seasons of his second stint in Phoenix and probably should have/could have won a championship sometime between 2005 and 2007 if a few suspensions/injuries to Amar’e Stoudemire went differently.
Whatever the case, it could be argued that Nash deserves his number 13 retired by the Mavericks. He was instrumental in this team having the proud history that it does this century and any point guard since for Dallas, including Kidd and even Dennis Smith Jr., has been trying to live up to his level of play.
Overall career: 12.6 PPG, 8.7 APG, 6.3 RPG, 10x All-Star, 9x All-NBA Defensive Team selection
With Dallas (1994-1996, 2008-2012): 10.5 PPG, 8.4 APG, 5.5 RPG, 2x All-Star (1996 and 2010), 1995 co-Rookie of the Year with Grant Hill
Jason Kidd began his career with Dallas as the number two pick in the 1994 NBA Draft and then was out of town two years later. By the time he returned in a blockbuster trade in 2008, he had basically made his case for being a Hall of Famer. Most NBA fans will think of Kidd at his greatest when he led the then-named New Jersey Nets to two consecutive NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003. As an aside, those Nets teams and LeBron James’ 2007 Cleveland Cavaliers would have a very interesting competition for worst teams to ever make it to the NBA Finals.
As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t follow basketball until the early 2000s so I can’t say too much on Kidd’s first tenure in Dallas besides I would have loved to have been around to experience the buzz of the alleged Toni Braxton situation with his other young teammates Jamal Mashburn and Jimmy Jackson. I can, however, speak to his second tenure in Dallas.
The 2011 Dallas Mavericks don’t win the championship without Jason Kidd. That can also be said about Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler, Shawn Marion, Jason Terry, maybe J.J. Barea and then coach Rick Carlisle. What made that team so special is that each veteran had their own special backstory of what made them so hungry. It was the perfect mix and it all came together at the right time. Kidd was an absolutely vital part of that.
As time will go on, we’re going to forget how much he meant to the success of that team. The numbers definitely don’t do it justice. In 2010-2011, Kidd essentially averaged 8 points, 8 assists and 4 rebounds per game while shooting 34% from three. Very… solid? I guess? But if you look at the 2011 playoffs, he stepped it up to 9 points, 7 assists and close to 2 steals per game in over 35 minutes a night as a 37 year-old. He almost single handedly won game one of Dallas’ first round series against the Portland Trail Blazers with 24 points on six made three-pointers. In game four of the Western Conference Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder, he nailed a clutch three in overtime to help give the Mavericks a 3-1 series lead.
In the Finals against the Miami Heat, Kidd’s defense on Dwyane Wade and occasionally LeBron James was just as vital a contribution as Dirk Nowtizki or Jason Terry’s offensive feats. That 2011 team did not feature any singular defensive superstars, but were outstanding as a well-coached, veteran, high-IQ unit that slowed down the likes of LaMarcus Aldridge, Kobe Bryant, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Chris Bosh, Wade and James throughout their run to the championship.
Jason Kidd was a competitor who did what he had to do to get his ring in 2011. He knew he wasn’t what he once was, so he bettered his jump shot. He bought into his coaches’ messages. He provided a quiet, but needed veteran presence. It was all essential on that title team. Again, I think there’s a good chance Jason Kidd is in the Hall of Fame without his second stint with the Mavericks, but it sure as hell made him a lock for Springfield.
Who knows when the next member of the Hall of Fame with heavy Mavs ties will be inducted? Maybe it will be in six years for Dirk Nowitzki. Maybe even sooner for Mark Cuban’s contributions to the league. Whenever it is, it will be a special event for Mavericks fans across the world. Be sure to appreciate Jason Kidd and Steve Nash’s induction this weekend. They are two of the most important players in this franchise’s nearly 40 year history, and they deserve this ultimate honor.
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