Game 81: Mavs at Sixers

Motley Putback Dunk

Johnathan Motley catches it off the Harrison Barnes miss and throws down the putback dunk.

Game 80: Mavs at Pistons

Motley Scores 26 Vs. Pistons

Johnathan Motley finishes with 26 points and 12 rebounds in an overtime loss to the Pistons.

Game 77: Mavs at Cavs

Smith Jr. Soars and Slams

Dennis Smith Jr. crosses and spins around Jose Calderon to soar and throw it down.

Two Mavs PG greats inducted into Hall of Fame

2018 Hall of Fame: Steve Nash and Jason Kidd

Congrats to Steve Nash and Jason Kidd on being inducted in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame!

DALLAS — When Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle heard that Jason Kidd was going to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this summer, he already knew this prestigious award was going to be a foregone conclusion for the big-time playmaker.

After all, Kidd was one of the greatest players in NBA history. And his greatness was on full display in 2011 when he led the Mavs – coached by Carlisle – to the franchise’s only NBA title.

“This is certainly no shock,” Carlisle said of Kidd’s Hall of Fame honors. “It’s very much expected.

“When we won it in 2011 he just did a little bit of everything. Everything from guarding all the great players at some point during that series — at least on the perimeter — to scoring when he had to, to leading. He’s just an amazing player.”

Carlisle said he thought Kidd would become an NBA owner after his playing days. Meanwhile, Guard J. J. Barea, who was on the Mavs’ championship team with Kidd, wasn’t surprised that Kidd turned out to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

“He was amazing as a leader shooting the ball, playing defense, passing the ball,” Barea said. “I learned a lot from him and we all knew he was going to be in the Hall of Fame.

“He gave me confidence. He gave me the ball and he’s like, ‘Go shoot it,’ so it was awesome.”

The Mavs chose Kidd No. 2 overall in the 1994 NBA Draft, but traded him to the Phoenix Suns on Dec. 27, 1996. However, the Mavs got Kidd back in a trade with the New Jersey Nets on Feb. 13, 2008 and kept him until he left and signed a free agent contract with the New York Knicks on July 12, 2012.

As Kidd becomes the first player the Mavs drafted to ever be inducted into the Hall of Fame, forward Harrison Barnes spoke highly of Kidd prior to Friday’s game against Minnesota. Kidd grew up in the Bay Area and Barnes played his first four NBA seasons with the Golden State Warriors.

“Playing in the Bay Area, obviously you hear a lot of legendary stuff about him,” Barnes said. “And then just being a basketball fan, you’ve seen him over the course of his career.

“I think it’s a testament to one of the best floor generals in the game. A guy that just played hard and had that toughness about him at that guard position, so obviously this is well-earned and well deserved.”

Barnes said he always joked with Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki – he was Kidd’s teammate on the Mavs’ championship season – about not getting enough rebounds when playing alongside Kidd.

“He said, ‘J-Kidd was stealing all of mine,’ Barnes said. “I said, ‘Man, you’re 7-feet tall, you had no excuses.’ He said, ‘He was getting the rebounds, he was pushing it up the floor, he was shooting the ball, and I was lucky I got it on the floor.’ ”

Kidd, who later coached the Nets and the Milwaukee Bucks, was widely considered as one of the prototypical point guard. He was a coach on the floor and a walking triple-double.

“Last year I remember coach brought in a picture of J-Kidd guarding LeBron (James) in the (2011) Finals when he was here, and he’s like this dude is 39,” Barnes said. “(He was) guarding LeBron full court in the NBA Finals.

“I think that’s just another testament to how tough he was as a player and his mental toughness.”

Former Mavs point guard Steve Nash also was a mental tough player who was difficult to handle. A two-time NBA Most Valuable Player and eight-time All-Star, Nash will join Kidd as a Hall of Fame inductee this summer.

Nash played for the Mavs from 1998-2004, but did his most damage with the Suns, where he was the league’s MVP in 2005 and ’06.

“Even though I didn’t work with Nash here, he’s so well-known and so beloved, and was such a great player here that I feel like he was around,” Carlisle said. “And he certainly was a big problem to deal with when we competed against him.

“His career had similarities to Jason’s in that when Steve was drafted it took a while for him to even consistently play. And once he got with (coach) Mike (D’Antoni) in Phoenix he won two MVP’s in a row, and that’s just an amazing accomplishment.”

Game 76: Mavs vs. Timberwolves

Kleber With The Huge Rejection

Maxi Kleber gets up for the huge block on Jamal Crawford.

Game 75: Mavs at Lakers

Dunk of the Night: Dennis Smith Jr.

Dennis Smith Jr. steals the ball away from Julius Randle and races down the court before showing off for a 360-degree finish.

Future entrepreneurs shine bright

DALLAS – At the Venture-Entrepreneurial Expedition on Friday, Torrey Cohen tried to present a unique way to increase attendance at his school from 93 percent to 97 percent.

Then the 13-year-old from the Young Men’s Leadership Academy received a “gift” that he certainly didn’t see coming. And it came from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

“I’ll make you an offer. If you get the attendance up to 96 percent,” Cuban told Cohen, “I’ll come back to your school and hang out with you guys for two hours and take the whole school (of 950 students) to a Mavs game.”

That brought a loud roar from the crowd assembled at Balch Spring Middle School, since it was a kind gesture that neither Cohen or anyone else expected.

Cuban, Mavs guard Seth Curry, education technology innovator EVERFI, Inc., the Seth Curry Foundation and presenting sponsor 5miles visited students at Young Women’s STEAM Academy for their first Business Pitch Competition in celebration of students participating in the Venture-Entrepreneurial Expedition. The business pitches were performed in a format similar to the popular TV show Shark Tank, where Cuban is one of the co-hosts.

The Venture-Entrepreneurial Expedition program is a new educational initiative designed to teach students how to think entrepreneurially about business and life.

Three awards were handed out on Friday, and Cohen’s group – Fill In The Cracks – won for the Best Overall Business Pitch For Dallas. Cohen, 13, admitted that it wasn’t easy standing on stage and trying to deliver a message that he hopes would be convincing to others.

“First off, you are presenting to a millionaire and a billionaire, and so I was very nervous,” Cohen said. “My mom told me to talk to them as if it was just a conversation with anyone – I just did that.”

“I got to shake hands with Mr. Cuban and Mr. Curry more than once, and talk to them. It was unbelievable. We worked very hard for this and we got a reward for it.”

Josiah Benson also won an award for having the most creative business pitch, and said his target audience “will be philanthropists like you, Mark Cuban.” Benson wants to donate toys and books to the less fortunate, and got a surprise when 5miles general manager Rick Cantu offered to step in and push his business plan twofold.

“Actually we just got to 14 million (downloads) across the United States, and my offer is this,” Cantu told Benson. “What we want to do, if you want to accelerate your donations, my team can work with you to promote your story.”

“We can stuff your home with books and toys so that you can pay it forward like you want to do.”

With a sheepish smile, Benson said: “I would love to take you up on that offer. And you say it’s been a pleasure meeting me — it’s been a pleasure meeting all of you.”

“To me, when I was smaller I never thought I would be able to do something this big, this huge. This is one of the biggest most gigantic milestones in my lifetime, because where I come from not a lot of children like me get to do this, so thank you all.”

The entrepreneurial program was initiated back in August with local Dallas middle schools learning from the digital course. Friday was the tell-tale time to see the fruits of the students’ labor.

“I didn’t get to learn about a lot of these business practices and how to develop an entrepreneurial mind until I got to college,” Curry said. “So for them to be able to learn this at this age is a great thing and I’m glad I was able to be a part of it.”

“It’s a great program, a great thing to be a part of, and it’s great to follow up now and see how much they’ve learned and how far they’ve come.”

Michelle Guerra-Martinez showed how much she’s learned and how far she’s come. The 13-year old from the Young Women’s STEAM Academy won the award for the most impactful business pitch, and was appreciative that it was so well received by the accompanying judges.

“Just to know that there was someone so important sitting there and listening to me and to recognize my ideas, and to win this award, knowing that someone actually acknowledged my idea, it feels great,” Guerra-Martinez said. “This is my first award ever.”

Delivering one of the winning entrepreneurial presentations, however, didn’t come without some trepidation.

“It was very, very nerve-wracking and I was shaking,” Guerra-Martinez said. “But I did my little prayer and I got up there.”

“The crowd was hyping me up – my classmates, my friends – and that just made me feel special. And I just felt 100 percent better.”

Shelley Baxter, the STEAM coordinator at Young Women’s STEAM Academy, said she didn’t know if even today she would have the courage to stand on stage and do a sales pitch in front of Cuban, Curry and Cantu.

“The students’ ideas and thoughts were excellent, and the fact that two of the participants actually got offers to take their idea even farther, I can’t even find the right words to express how excited I am for them,” Baxter said. “I didn’t know that were going to get an offer, and when the first offer came I’m like, ‘Wow.’ ”

“It took the breath out of me, and then when the second offer came. (Cuban is) willing to take all those kids to the Mavericks game. It just gives them that one last push to get the job done.”

Cuban told the students that he sold garbage bags as a kid, and wanted to be the best garbage bag salesman out there. He also doesn’t want them to have a fear of failure.

“I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart since as long as I can remember, so I know all the fears and all the excitement that goes into being a kid starting a business,” Cuban said. “So when I kind of pushed Seth to include me on this, it gives me a chance to encourage them in a way that hopefully will help them go out there and be the future of this country and start the businesses that make a difference.”

“This is the future of our country, and obviously Seth and I are big believers in the American dream. And trying to encourage kids and give them a little bit of experience is always a good thing.”

Curry was excited just to see the passion the students brought to their business presentations.

“As you grow, I encourage all of you to find what you love to do,” Curry said, “and find the difference you want to make in this world and put all your efforts into it and work hard no matter how many times you fail or get cut from your team or if your business plan isn’t right the first time.”

“Just continue to work at it and as long as you have that effort and that passion, that hard work will pay off for you in the long run.”

In all, there were six groups of students who gave business pitches to the judges. Cuban’s advice was for them to just be themselves.

“What I always tell people, if you look around you, somebody came up with the idea for everything that we see, and there’s nothing to prevent you from being the next person that comes up with the next great idea,” Cuban said. “The only person that can stop you is you.”

“I just try to encourage them and I also try to tell people it doesn’t matter how many times you fail, you only need to be right one time and then everybody tells you you’re an overnight success. To get them started and failing early and learning and succeeding and going through the whole process, I think that’s how the future stars, the future Elon Musk and the future Bill Gates, are born.”