Cal Basketball: Mavs’ surprising playoff run deserves praise for ex-Bears star Jason Kidd

Not everyone was convinced Jason Kidd was the right choice when the Dallas Mavericks hired him as head coach last year.

That feeling is long gone after the Mavs’ dominating 123-90 win over top-seeded Phoenix in Sunday’s Game 7 of their Western Conference Semifinals series.

Kidd, who helped the Mavs to their only NBA as a veteran point guard in 2011, is Dallas’ toast 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, won praise from all quarters after guiding the Mavericks to their deepest playoff run in 11 years.

Jason Kidd

This is Kidd’s third stop as NBA head coach, and clearly his most successful effort to date. Recently retired from his Hall of Fame playing career, he spent the 2013-14 season as coach of the New Jersey Nets and then most of the next four seasons in charge of the Milwaukee Bucks.

But the Mavericks’ 52-30 regular season and subsequent playoff wins over Utah and Phoenix surpassed anything Kidd had achieved before as a coach.

Against the heavily favored Suns, Kidd pressed all the right buttons. He made roster changes, convinced young star Luka Doncic to step up his game in defense and kept his team free ahead of Game 7 on the road.

Hall of Famer Reggie Miller praised Kidd’s work on the Game 7 broadcast, as did Shaquille O’Neal on the TNT post-game show.

Here’s a sampling of what others had to say:

Eddie Sefko on Kidd

Eddie Sefko,

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“There is nothing to be upset about. I trust my guys. … We’ve talked about it all season. The previous coach was taking timeouts right away on a 2-0 run or a 4-0 run. I want my guys to get through this, and this is no different. –Dallas News’ Callie Caplan on not micro-managing her players, even in Game 7

Marc J. Spears on Kidd

ESPN’s Marc J. Spears

“Jason Kidd deserves a ton of credit for the work he did with the Dallas Mavericks. A lot of people clowned him around (including early this season), but he helped this team cross the line. next step.” –Alex Kennedy of Basketball News

Magic Johnson on Kidd

Magic Johnson on Game 6

“How about that Jason Kidd and Sean Sweeney defense? The Phoenix Suns have won 64 games and been placed in solitary confinement in Game 7.” — New York Daily News’ Stefan Bondy on Kidd and Sweeney, his chief defensive assistant

Skip Bayless on Kidd

Pass without bay

“Credit Luka Doncic, Jason Kidd and the Mavs. They made good adjustments, took places from Chris Paul, neutralized Devin Booker and dominated at home. Then played without losing anything in Game 7 and absolutely crushed the No. 1 seed in the NBA on the road.” — Gérald Bourguet, Phoenix writer

Mike Macsik on Kidd

Radio host on 105.3 The Fan, based in Dallas

Eddie Johnson on Kidd

Phoenix Suns analyst and former NBA player

Cover photo of Jason Kidd by Mark J. Rebilias, USA Today

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