DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – When it comes to Michael Young and Jason Kidd, “What have you done for me lately” has never resonated louder.
Saw Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban on TV the other night. He was debating politics and life with Bill Maher and his Real Time roundtable. He wore a T-shirt with a photo of a Smurf that read “I Love Happy Endings.”
Then a couple days later Cuban goes on ESPN Radio and spins his shirt another way. Because – swear – the Mavs owner now says his team is better off because it was spurned this summer by free-agent guard Deron Williams.
“In hindsight, I don’t know if I would have been happy,” Cuban told Ben & Skin on 103.3 FM. “I think we’re in better position now than we would have been if we had gotten (Williams).”
Cuban then went on to say he was so mad at the way Jason Kidd departed via free agency to the New York Knicks that he will not retire and raise his No. 2 to the rafters at American Airlines Center.
Saw Texas Rangers’ long-time face-of-the-franchise Michael Young on TV the other day. He was out of the country hitting a home run, driving in 5 runs and wearing a smile. And, at least momentarily, back in the States the boos and the calls for his benching hit the pause button.
“Mike is a huge part of how we got here and where we’re going,” Rangers’ manager Ron Washington told us recently on 105.3 The Fan. “I’m going ride with him. If the ship goes down, it’s gonna go down with Michael Young on it.”
What have you done for me lately, eh?
No doubt Young is in decline. Just a year ago he hit .338, drove in 108 runs and finished 8th in the voting for AL MVP. This season he’s hovering around .270, recently broke a 349-at-bat homerless streak and is on pace for career-lows in doubles. Nonetheless, he doesn’t deserve to be benched.
Why? In case you haven’t noticed, the Rangers have quietly put away the AL West title in the last two weeks. They have the best offense in the AL and one of the best records in baseball. And somehow Rangers fans are calling for his head? Remember, these are the same “intellectual” fans who not along were booing MVP candidate Josh Hamilton and incessantly chanting “nap-oh-LEE” for catcher Mike Napoli and his .223 average.
Shame on Rangers fans who somehow quickly forgot that Young was this franchise’s best player during some of its worst years. When things went sour, the franchise shoved No. 10 in front of the cameras to explain the mess. He’s still a professional hitter. A playoff veteran. And a guy I’d like to have with a bat in his hands come October.
But the bigger shame lands at the billionaire sneakers of Cuban. For throwing a hissy fit about Kidd and, more importantly, for lying to his fans. No way Kidd’s No. 2 doesn’t someday hang in the rafters of AAC. And no way, after missing out on their desired “big fish” of Williams, are the Mavs somehow better off.
The Mavs, remember, declined to keep their 2011 championship-winning roster intact last summer because of its desire to sign a major free agent this summer. At the time, the available players were Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Dwight Howard. Don’t look now but while the Mavs were scratching their old heads in the wake of being swept out of the first round of the playoffs, Paul is a Clipper, Williams signed with the Brooklyn Nets and Howard just got traded to the Lakers.
Yeah, yeah, we all sleep well at night knowing the powder is still dry. But Cuban didn’t give the Mavs a chance to repeat as champs, missed out on the big free agents and is left with Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo and Chris Kaman and … oh, forget it.
It’s an epic failure, plain and simple.
“I don’t want to pick on Deron Williams because he’s a great, great, great player, and so it’s not necessarily him, per se,” Cuban tried to explain. “The conversation we had going back and forth – and obviously the decision was to go for him – but the conversation was, ‘OK, once you add $17.1 million in salary to what we’d have with Dirk (Nowitzki) and Trix (Shawn Marion), then what do you do?’ That’s your squad. And it’s not just your squad for this year. It’s your squad for next year other than the $3.3 million mini midlevel. So that was a challenge that we had because we want to win, and everybody talks about Dirk’s window. Well, not only would it have been difficult to add players, then it also would have been difficult to trade players, and in reality that was the same problem that Deron had. Because he looked and saw the same thing and said, ’OK, now what are you going to do?’”
Nice spin. Horrible insult. Mavs fans are smarter than that. In today’s NBA – dominated by LeBron and Wade and Bosh in the East and now Kobe and Nash and Gasol and Howard in the West – if it takes you more than a second to name your second star, you’re not a competitive team. Quick, behind Dirk who’s the Mavs’ other star? Not Jason Kidd. Not Jason Terry. Not Tyson Chandler. Not Deron Williams. Not … anyone.
And if Kidd wanted to bolt after the Mavs whiffed on Williams, who can blame him? He reinvigorated the Mavs in the mid-90s and returned 15 years later to lead them to their first championship. Cuban is mad at him for changing his mind and leaving for New York.
Well, guess what, Mavs fans are mad at Cuban. And, while we’re at it, Young should be mad at Rangers fans.
If we could only treat our old heroes like a Young Kidd.
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