Here’s how you know you’re getting older as an NBA fan: another first-ballot Hall of Famer that I grew up revering finally called it a career Monday. It saddens me to finally write that Jason Kidd, the workhorse of a point guard who dominated the NBA’s most important position for much of the last two decades, has played his final game on professional hardwood.
Drafted with the second overall pick in 1994 by the Dallas Mavericks, the California native’s all-around ability was evident from his very early playing days. His freshman stat line of 11.7 points per game, 7.7 assists per game and 5.4 rebounds per game was good enough to earn him a spot as co-Rookie of the Year in 1995 with fellow All-Star, Grant Hill. In Hill’s case, he was drafted the pick right below Kidd in the same draft and retired mere days before the venerable point guard, perhaps forever linking their two storied careers. That being said, while Hill may have been a more explosive player with a defter scoring touch in his prime (some people forget that, when he was healthy, he put up LeBron James-like numbers in the latter half of the 90’s), Kidd’s career had much more staying power based on his skill set and his ability to survive and adapt. Those who watched him morph from a pedal-to-the-metal, in-your-face slasher of a point guard in his prime to a more methodical, almost-surgeon like sharpshooter in his twilight years can fully appreciate this unlikeliest of transformations.
Many news articles online have details the enormity of Kidd’s accomplishments, so I’ll just run through the most impressive nuggets. He stands as the player with the second-most assists (12,091), second-most steals (2,684) and third-most triple-doubles (107) in NBA history – numbers that put him in the elite company of Magic Johnson, John Stockton and Oscar Robertson as all-time great point guards. He also managed to accumulate two Olympic gold medals, one NBA championship and only forty-one missed starts in over 1,300 games. If that doesn’t exemplify longevity, I don’t know what does.
The important thing to remember, even amidst all of the aforementioned accolades, is that Kidd’s impact on the game and the teams he played for goes beyond anything the scoresheet might tell you. A perennial All-Star, he managed to lift a beleaguered franchise in New Jersey past the benchmark of respectability and into three consecutive NBA Finals appearances. He changed the dynamic of an almost-there Mavericks squad that toppled the Big Three in the franchise’s only championship win. Finally, at age 40, he managed to help bring together a Knicks franchise that had been nothing but discombobulated and be one of their focal points en route to winning 54 games this past season. His combative spirit never waned, even when his physical health may have, and for that, the NBA is forever in his debt for ushering in an era of exciting, palpable basketball leadership.
Cheers to you, J-Kidd.
Interested in writing for LastWordOnSports? If so, check out our “Join Our Team” page to find out how.
Photo Credit: Article.wn.com