In 1994-95 NBA season Jason Kidd revived not only the Dallas Mavericks but also, to a certain degree, the League as a whole, providing the exciting proof there can be magic even beyond Magic (Johnson)!
From the very first game of the season, Kidd would do everything Dallas Mavericks needed to win - he would rebound or steal the ball and initiate the lighting quick break and then dish a no-look pass, he would get back for a game-winning rejection or he would hit a big three to send the game to overtime.
Mavs were in a slump before Kidd’s era but it’s not the did not have players - they had a lethal 2-3 combo in Jim Jackson and Jamal Mashburn and a nice pair of the frontcourt anchors in the experienced center Roy Tarpley (who returned from a stint in Greece) and blue-collar power forward Popeye Jones.
It became obvious to anyone, that this team, coached by legendary Dick Motta, really wasn’t a joke anymore!
Kidd’s special presence was felt from the very first game of the 1994-95 season in which he fell one rebound short of triple-double in the 9-point win over the visiting Nets. In only the fourth game of the season, he fed the ball to a steaming hot Mashburn and Jackson for the much publicized 4-point win in Chicago, on November 12th, 1994, creating a tremendous buzz all across the basketball globe.
Mavs were not losers anymore - it was Kidd’s selfless and energetic play on both ends of the court which turned them into an exciting team which play against anyone in the League, and which thus improved it’s 1993-94 dismal 13-69 record to a much more modest 36-46 record in 1994-95.
The climax of Kidd’s rookie campaign came on April 11th, 1995 in Houston. In the battle of epic proportions with the 1994 NBA champions, Houston Rockets, it was exactly the Kidd who refused to lose to the elite squad led by Hakeem ‘The Dream’ Olajuwon and his old paw Clyde ‘The Glide’ Drexler.
That night, Mavs #5 would do everything his team needed to win. He collected the boards and dish the ball to ‘Big Mash’, who scored huge 42 points in the contest. He hit consecutive off-balance threes in the clutch to force the overtime. In OT he put a cross-over move on Drexler, drove the lane and sealed the win with a left-handed dunk!
For the season Kidd hit 70 threes on 257 attempts (only 27.2%) but that night he bravely shot and hit an unbelievable total of 8-12 shots from beyond the arc! By scoring season-high 38 points, to go along with 11 boards and 10 dimes, he led the Mavs to 156-147 hard fought OT win.
That season the future Hall-of-Famer appeared in 79 games, starting all of them while averaging 11.7 points, 7.7 dimes, 5.4 boards and 1.9 steals per game.
Murray A. a.k.a. Marjan Crnogaj is a BN contributor and the co-author of the Amazon.com TOP 100 basketball biography ‘Drazen – The Years of the Dragon’ ('Drazen - Godine Zmaja') which reveals the yet untold details from the life and career of the legendary NBA shooting guard Drazen Petrovic. He resides in Zagreb, Croatia, currently working on his third book which tells the untold story of the 1989 Green Card Five.