HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Few players in the history of the NBA have held the distinction of being the standard bearer at their position the way Jason Kidd did during his 19-year career, which came to an end today with the announcement that veteran point guard was retiring.
He has been more than just a great player during his career. Kidd has been the prototype at point guard of his generation and arguably the greatest all-around athlete to play the position — name another point guard who graduated high school as a first team USA Today All-American in two sports (baseball).
Kidd didn’t get the chance to revolutionize the game as a “big” point guard. Magic Johnson took care of that while Kidd was still playing with toy cars. But he did continue the renaissance for the position, which is arguably the deepest its ever been right now with an assorted bunch of point guards who grew up with Kidd as the standard.
Everyone from Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose, and Deron Williams to the new breed of Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry, Jrue Holiday, John Wall and Mike Conley have grown up with Kidd as the ideal role model of who and what a true point guard is supposed to be.
A 10-time All-Star who led the NBA in assists five times during his career, Kidd finishes his career second all-time in assists and steals behind John Stockton, another point guard Kidd will join in the Hall of Fame one day. Kidd served as a bridge between the Magic, Isiah Thomas-Stockton era at the position and the current renaissance.
At 40, Kidd joins the man he shared Rookie of the Year honors with in 1995, Grant Hill, who announced his retirement over the weekend on TNT, in leaving the NBA after nearly two decades as a staple on and off the court.
“I think it is the right time,” Kidd told ESPNNewYork.com. “When you think about 19 years, it has been a heckuva ride. Physically, I want to be able to participate in activities with my kids so it has taken a toll. It is time to move on and think about maybe coaching or doing some broadcasting.”
“Jeff [Schwartz] and I and my family had been talking this past weekend,” Kidd added of his agent. “We talked a lot and we felt it was the right time to move on and so we notified the Knicks. They were kind of taken aback. We told them [earlier] that I wanted to come back and play. But this weekend was when we got a chance to relax [and really think about it]. It is the right thing to do.”
Kidd won a championship with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011 and also two gold medals with the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team in Olympic competition (Sydney in 2000 and Beijing in 2008), as well as three other gold medals during international competition with USA Basketball.
Perhaps the most impressive accomplishment on Kidd’s resume is the back-to-back Eastern Conference titles and trips to The Finals (in 2002 and 2003) with the Nets, the first ever and only trips to that high ground for the franchise. Kidd elevated a franchise to a championship level and in my eyes never got the credit he deserved for doing so, at least not in the way that Steve Nash did while winning back-to-back MVPs in Phoenix for impacting that franchise in the same way.
Acknowledging his contribution, Nets GM Billy King released this statement: “Jason Kidd was the captain of the Nets during their most successful period in the NBA, and is considered the greatest player in the Nets’ NBA history. On behalf of the entire Brooklyn Nets organization, we congratulate him on his Hall of Fame career.”
Kidd was a first or second-team All-NBA pick 10 times in his career, five each, and will go down as not only one of the best NBA point guards of all time but one of the all-time greats in high school (Bay Area legend at St. Joe-Notre Dame), college (Cal, where his No. 5 is retired) and in the NBA (the Suns, Nets, Knicks and two stints with the Mavs).
A liability as a shooter early in his career, Kidd refined his stroke in his later years and reinvented himself as a clutch 3-point shooter, draining shot after big shot during the Mavericks’ title march in 2011.
An acknowledgement of Kidd’s greatness is in order. We’re saying goodbye to not only one of the great players of his generation, but one of the greatest players the NBA has seen in any generation.