You would think the Dallas Mavericks stinking up the joint after winning it all in 2011 would primarily be due to team owner Mark Cuban not re-signing Tyson Chandler. However, when you look at the New York Knicks, who imploded this past season after losing Jason Kidd to the Brooklyn Nets last offseason, it changes things.
The Mavericks, of course, tried hard to re-sign Kidd after the 2011-12 NBA season. After returning from an injury that season, it was Kidd who refused to let the Mavericks choke away that last playoff spot in the Western Conference. As former Maverick Jason Terry pointed out during an appearance on FOX Sports 1’s FOX Sports Live, Kidd was a “coach on the floor.”
Kidd, 41, was the Mavericks’ leader. Kidd’s calm demeanor prevented the Mavericks from panicking and self-destructing at the end of games, a problem which has recently turned the Mavericks into an inconsistent, petty team.
That’s what happens when a team loses its leader. Just take a look at the Indiana Pacers when Larry Bird was the head coach. Sure, current Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle was the one doing all the X’s and O’s then, but Bird was the man who led that Pacers team to damn-near upsetting Michael Jordan‘s championship Chicago Bulls.
Kidd’s loss was even more detrimental to the Knicks. Yes, Chandler missed some games, but Chandler always misses games. Aside from losing Kidd, the Knicks pretty much had the same roster intact that got the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference the previous season. Yet, in the weakest conference in decades, the Knicks were terrible, not even making the playoffs.
Kidd led those Nets into the second round of the playoffs without even playing a snap. It goes to show—no matter how talented a team is—the team can’t win with a bunch of followers and no leader.