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Was Dallas Mavericks coach Jason Kidd playing ‘mind games?’ He says no

While banter between teams is not new in the NBA Finals, there was one comment from the Mavericks coach that caused a stir in Boston. He says it isn’t so.

While banter between teams is not new in the NBA Finals, there was one comment from the Mavericks coach that caused a stir in Boston. He says it isn’t so.

It’s not unheard of for coaches of teams in any sport to try to destabilize their opponent by what we can refer to as subtle means. Indeed, a comment here or a suggestion there can often cause tension in a dressing room where there was none. That said, the Mavericks coach has insisted that his recent comments about one of the Celtics’ stars were nothing more than an observation.

Jason Kidd pushes back on ‘mind games’ accusation

The Boston Celtics as you likely know are taking a 2-0 lead to Texas on Wednesday night. There, they will face a Dallas Mavericks that absolutely needs a win here and now if they are to avoid going 3-0 down in the NBA Finals, a deficit that no team in the league’s history has ever overturned. Needless to say, there have been all kinds of back and forth between the teams, not the least of which was a rather curious comment from Jason Kidd between Game 1 and 2.

Speaking with the media, Kidd referred to the Celtics’ Jaylen Brown as the team’s “best player.” Now, while that may seem innocuous, it was certainly not received that way with both Brown and Tatum answering that very same day, saying they had “no reaction” to Kidd’s comment. There was also Boston’s center Al Horford who said “”Jason Kidd, man. I see what he’s doing,” before referring to the Mavs’ coach as “sneaky.” Apparently, all of them were convinced that Kidd was trying to divide the locker room, or as Tatum said, “drive a wedge between” the stars of the team. Yet, to hear Kidd tell it, that was not at all the case.

On Tuesday, Kidd explained that he was simply giving his opinion about a player. “It wasn’t mind games,” Kidd said. “But for whatever reason, everybody took it that way. Everybody was speculating, and no one really asked me that.” The former NBA champion (2011) then went on to explain that while watching the Eastern Conference playoffs, he came to the conclusion that Brown was the best player, referencing Celtics guard Jrue Holiday who appeared to endorse Kidd’s comment by saying he wasn’t lying. On the other hand, it should be said that Holida has since said he does “not prefer one or the other.” Regardless, Kidd doubled down on his stance. “Like, I was just giving it from a point of view of watching,” Kidd said. “There wasn’t no mind games. I was just making an observation.”

Interestingly, the 51-year-old also made mention of his relationship with Brown which goes back to the latter’s time at the University of California. “He has a group of people that he entrusts,” Kidd said. “He’s a Cal Bear - a former Bear, like me.” Ultimately, if Kidd was in fact playing mind games, it hasn’t helped as the Celtics are still leading 2-0 and looking like a solid bet to be champions.