Not everyone was convinced Jason Kidd was the right choice when the Dallas Mavericks hired him as head coach last year.
That sentiment is long gone after the Mavs’ dominating 123-90 win over top-seeded Phoenix in Sunday’s Game 7 of their Western Conference semifinal series.
Kidd, who helped the Mavs to their only NBA as a veteran point guard in 2011, is the toast of Dallas again as the franchise prepares for Game 1 of the Western Conference finals against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday at San Francisco.
Kidd, 49, whose career was launched by two seasons at Cal, drew praise from all quarters after guiding the Mavericks on their deepest postseason run in 11 years.
This is Kidd’s third NBA head-coaching stop, and clearly his most successful effort so far. Recently retired from his Hall of Fame playing career, he spent the 2013-14 season as coach of the New Jersey Nets, then most of the next four seasons in charge of the Milwaukee Bucks.
But the Mavericks’ 52-30 regular season and subsequent playoff series victories over Utah and Phoenix exceed anything Kidd had previously achieved as a coach.
Against the heavily favored Suns, Kidd pushed all the right buttons. He made lineup tweaks, convinced young star Luka Doncic to amp up his play at the defensive end, and kept his team loose heading into a Game 7 on the road.
Kidd is mic'd up shouting instructions during this defensive stand:
Hall of Famer Reggie Miller praised Kidd's work during the Game 7 broadcast, as did Shaquille O'Neal in the TNT postgame show.
Here's a sampling of what others had to say:
“There’s nothing to get tight about. I trust my guys. … We’ve talked about it all season. The previous coach would take timeouts right away on a 2-0 run or a 4-0 run. I want my guys to work through it, and this is no different.” -- Callie Caplan of the Dallas News on not micro-managing his players, even in Game 7
"Jason Kidd deserves a ton of credit for the job he’s done with the Dallas Mavericks. A lot of people have clowned him (including at the start of this season), but he has helped this team take the next step." -- Alex Kennedy of Basketball News
"How about this defense from Jason Kidd and Sean Sweeney? Phoenix Suns won 64 games and have been placed in solitary confinement in a Game 7." -- Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News on Kidd and Sweeney, his chief defensive assistant
"Credit Luka Doncic, Jason Kidd and the Mavs. They made good adjustments, took away Chris Paul’s spots, neutralized Devin Booker and dominated at home. Then played with nothing to lose in Game 7 and absolutely steamrolled the NBA’s No. 1 seed on the road." -- Gerald Bourguet, Phoenix writer
Kidd's postgame press conference after Game 7:
Cover photo of Jason Kidd by Mark J. Rebilias, USA Today
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo