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Chicago JK
07-07-2003, 11:05 AM
Nets: Spurs begin the wooing by wining and dining Kidd



Monday, July 07, 2003


BY BRAD PARKS
Star-Ledger Staff

SAN ANTONIO -- The official Jason Kidd recruitment dinner, scheduled for 6:30 local time, began at a fashionably late 6:45, then stretched far past twilight and into darkness, after a sticky Texas day had faded into a soft summer night.

Kidd was, naturally, the guest of honor, along with his wife, Joumana, and agent, Jeff Schwartz. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was the host, having opened his house in a fashionable gated community northwest of downtown for the sales pitch he delivered along with general manager R.C. Buford. Tim Duncan was among the distinguished guests.


The Spurs had brought in a chef, who had prepared a feast that included lobster, beef, chicken, lamb and five kinds of desserts. And there, over heaping plates of food, the Spurs settled -- after months of speculation -- into the task of wooing Jason Kidd.

The dinner didn't end until 10:30, and judging from the length of the proceedings, there appears to be a mutual and genuine interest between the reigning NBA champions and the most sought-after free-agent point guard in the league.

"It was a terrific dinner, though I didn't eat everything," Kidd said as he strolled back to his hotel, then excused himself from a brief interview. "I'm pretty tired. It's late."

The Spurs had little to say publicly beyond what Popovich, who escorted Kidd back to his hotel, offered one reporter attempting to inquire about Kidd's evening:

"Go to hell," Popovich told the reporter as soon as Kidd had closed the door to his hotel room and was out of earshot. "You can quote me saying that."

Still, it was probably the quietest part of a day that had been anything but quiet for Kidd earlier on. Because even before you could see Kidd, even before his security escort or his chauffeured limousine or his small entourage announced his presence, finding him was really quite simple yesterday.

You had only to look for the helicopter that one of the local television stations had hired and follow the sound of the rotor blades.

Kidd's visit to San Antonio was that kind of event. In a place that would ordinarily be snoozing its way through another hot, uneventful tourist season, this was front-page news. It was the talk of this one-team town.

The guy who had been Public Enemy No. 1 just a few weeks earlier, when the Nets pushed the hometown Spurs to six games in the NBA Finals, was now talking about switching sides.

Kidd said all along he wanted to be wooed and recruited. Yesterday, he began to have that wish fulfilled, and all of San Antonio thought it was good enough theater to want to watch.

Because from the time his plane touched down at roughly 4:40 central time yesterday afternoon, the television cameras alone would have had you believe there was nothing else happening in San Antonio, or at least nothing anyone was interested in.

Kidd and crew deplaned at a private hangar away from the terminals where the television cameras had set their various ambushes. Moments after stepping off the plane, Kidd's party was herded into a black conversion van with heavily tinted windows and whisked away.

By 5, Kidd had arrived at the Westin LaCantera, trailed by the helicopter and a small phalanx of hotel security in golf carts, who had managed to shoo away the more earth-bound news vehicles. All the while, Kidd was not entirely sure what the Spurs had planned for him.

"We literally just landed," Schwartz said. "I really don't know what we're going to do yet."

For the Kidds, the visit was just beginning. For the Spurs, it had already been a long day of making sure everything was just right, beginning with their efforts to keep the curious public at arm's length.

"You're on private property right now," team spokesman Tom James told a reporter who had parked outside the media entrance to the Spurs' practice facility. "I'm going to have to ask you to leave."

This, of course, did not stop a television crew from setting up across an abandoned lot from the practice facility, in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant. From that safe distance, they recorded the comings and goings of the day.

A window-washing crew was hard at work and another crew with a power-washer was hosing down the outside of the practice facility. Later, a man in a flower delivery van made repeated trips in and out of the facility, his arms full of foliage when he went in and empty again when he came out.

The town outside the practice facility was still buzzing from last month's Finals victory.

There were billboards celebrating the victory everywhere you turned downtown -- the "Two for you" billboards put up by the Spurs, the "World Champions" billboards put up by the San Antonio Express-News.

At newsstands downtown, you could still buy out-of-date editions of Sports Illustrated, one whose cover asked, "Who's going to stop Tim Duncan?" and another that showed a picture of David Robinson and proclaimed, "The Perfect Ending."

On buildings, gas stations and stores all around town, there were still "Go Spurs Go" banners being proudly displayed, all vestiges of what had been a glorious spring.

And on one particular marquee in one anonymous strip malls located on the I-410 loop that rings this city, there was a message that spoke to what the Spurs seem to hope will also be a glorious summer.

"Welcome Jason Kidd," it read. "We hope you like it."

Mandyahl
07-07-2003, 11:10 AM
wow, that is funny how obsessive they were when he came.

Mandyahl
07-07-2003, 11:11 AM
double post. sorry guys.

hero = dirk
07-07-2003, 11:24 AM
ya sounds like the whole town of san antonio is crazy for him.

cookies_n_mavs
07-07-2003, 11:45 AM
He must have felt very welcome there..

Mandyahl
07-07-2003, 01:54 PM
kidd's ego could play a factor in the decision...who wouldn't want to be treated like that? especially coming from new jersey where the nets don't get enough love.