“Well, I guess this is hello Dallas for the third time,” said Jason Kidd to a packed audience Thursday afternoon at American Airlines Center.
And with that, the former Dallas Maverick and Hall-of-Famer was introduced as the Mavs new head coach.
“What a dream come true. What an incredible journey; to be drafted, to win rookie of the year, to win a championship and then to come back to be the head coach,” said Kidd.
“I am so happy. I am a kid in a candy store because this is a dream come true and if anyone out there tells that you dreams don’t come true, let them come talk to me.”
Also introduced was Nico Harrison, the franchise’s new general manager and president of basketball operations. He called his new job a homecoming. The former Nike executive lived in Dallas when he first started with the company back in 2002.
“This city is amazing. My roommate from college is from here and two of my teammates that I played with overseas live here, so I feel like Dallas is home,” Harrison said. “I’m really excited to be here and to be back home.”
Harrison said his approach as GM of the franchise “is simple. It’s going to be about servant leadership that kind of empowers the team and the staff to be at their best. And I believe that is essential and super important.
“Communication too. Communicating often. Communicating truthfully. I think that’s a very important ingredient,” he said. “And then the culture; creating a culture that everyone wants to be a part of. The fans want to be a part of, the staff wants to be a part of and the team wants to be a part of. I think if you have those three ingredients you’re going to win. I really do.”
Mavs CEO Cynt Marshall and Mavs owner Mark Cuban were also in attendance
“We are excited to welcome J-Kidd and his family back to Dallas,” said Cuban. “He possesses a winning mentality that carried him through a Hall of Fame career as a player and has helped him successfully transition to the NBA’s coaching ranks.
“We are eager for him to get to work and lead our franchise and talented young players into the future.”
Despite the hires intending to signal a new era in the franchise, Kidd’s hiring in particular has met with some controversy due to past issues including domestic violence allegations and a DUI.
Kidd pleaded guilty to spousal abuse in 2001 after he was accused of hitting his now-ex-wife Joumana. Per a report in the Fort Worth Star Telegram, quoting the New York Times, ESPN, and Associated Press, in 2007, Kidd filed for divorce accusing his wife of “extreme cruelty.”
A petition later filed by his wife alleged Kidd “punched, kicked or choked her, once giving her a concussion by striking her with a candlestick,” The Associated Press reported.
The hire is also troubling because of the Mavs history of sexual harassment in the workplace – detailed in a 2018 Sports Illustrated article that led to a front office shake-up and the hiring of Marshall who instituted a zero-tolerance policy for all team employees for both the office and basketball side of the organization.
On Thursday, Kidd’s past issues hung like a thick wall of fog during the press conference and while he, Cuban and Marshall spoke about it in general terms, they did not go in depth on the matter.
“We talked about his past,” Marshall said when asked about her conversations with Kidd upon his hiring. “We talked about some of the history, and he walked me through his journey, which I will call it a journey. He walked me through that. And at the end of that process, I very much felt like we were doing the right thing. I didn’t feel like we were undermining our zero-tolerance policy or our values or our code of conduct at all.”
When asked directly if she sought outside advice or council before hiring Kidd, Marshall said she did not. She told media assembled during the press conference that she vetted Kidd herself and then discussed the Mavs’ code-of-conduct.
“The Dallas Mavericks have a set of values—character, respect, authenticity, fairness, teamwork, and safety, both physical and emotional safety,” Marshall said.
“We have a zero-tolerance policy for misconduct, sexual harassment, false allegations, or anything that puts our employees in danger. If you don’t adhere to our code of conduct and our values, you don’t get the benefit of enjoying employment at the Dallas Mavericks.”
Kidd talked about his journey over the past 20 years since his incidents, which included counseling, and said he thinks it’s important to discuss what happened.
“I think it’s very important to one, be comfortable to talk about it. Because no one is perfect and to be able to talk about mistakes so someone else can learn from is big as a parent, as a coach, as a teacher. These are the opportunities that we need more of. If we shy away from it, it doesn’t help the situation.
“I’m not one to shy away from the situation. The journey that I’ve been on has not always been perfect, but we learn from our mistakes,” Kidd said. “Understanding God is great and that given the opportunity to prove yourself, to learn from your mistakes, to have the opportunity to talk about it.”
When asked what she would tell victims of domestic violence who “are heartbroken about this decision (to hire Kidd), Marshall, a victim of domestic violence herself, said she could only speak for herself.
“I can tell you what I have told myself and what I have told myself when I have been in pain and what I told myself when I thought about what my mom and my siblings have gone through is it’s inappropriate, it’s not right what we went through and we have gone throughout our own journey.
“We’ve gotten counseling. We’ve done the things we needed to do to get on with our lives. I’m a woman of faith so I’ve spent a lot of time on my knees and a lot of time praying to get to where I am right now, where I can actually talk to you about this.
“My heart goes out to anyone, anyone who has suffered at the hands of another person. What I can do is continue to pray for them,” Marshall said. “I can’t give any advice because I don’t know their circumstances. I know my circumstances.”
To this same question, Kidd answered: “This (domestic violence) is a serious matter. The first step is you have to get help. If you don’t get help, nothing changes. So you have to get help.”
The new faces of the Mavericks franchise are ushering in a new era after a surprising end to the 2021 season.
Kidd succeeds Rick Carlise, his former coach who spent 13 years with the team. He resigned early this month after GM Donnie Nelson – who hired him – was let go after 24 seasons.
Kidd, who was inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2018, begins his third stint in Dallas after spending eight of his 19 seasons as a player with the team and helping the Mavericks to the 2011 NBA title.
The 10-time NBA all-star and two- time Olympic gold medal winner joins the Mavericks after most recently serving two seasons as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Lakers, where he was part of the franchise’s 2020 NBA championship season.
Harrison joins the Mavericks after spending the last 19 years at Nike, where he most recently held the title of vice president of North America basketball operations. In his role, Harrison supervised Nike’s basketball brand managers and worked closely with many of the brand’s star players, including Hall of Famers Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan.
He replaces longtime general manager Nelson.
“I’m excited to be back here in Dallas,” Kidd said. “I know we have the best fans in the country and I can’t wait for the opportunity to raise another banner here.”