Sunday, June 9, 2013

Spotlight: Jason Kidd

"My time in professional basketball has been an incredible journey, but one that must come to an end after 19 years. As I reflect on my time with the four teams I represented in the N.B.A., I look back fondly at every season and thank each and every one of my teammates and coaches that joined me on the court."
After 19 seasons in the NBA, Jason Kidd is retiring from the game of basketball. Kidd announced his retirement in a statement released by the New York Knicks on June 3.

Jason leaves the league as one of the greatest point guards ever to play the game. Drafted No. 2 overall by the Dallas Mavericks in 1994, J-Kidd went on to become the co-Rookie of the Year in 1994-95, a 10-time NBA All-Star, a five-time First Team All-NBA selection, a four-time First Team All-Defense selection.

His name is all over the NBA record books at the top of some elite lists. Only five players in NBA history have played in more games than Kidd, who finishes his career sixth on that list with 1,391. Only two men, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone played more NBA minutes than Jason’s 50,111.

He ranks second all-time in assists and steals at 12,091 and 2.684 respectively, behind only NBA legend John Stockton in both categories. He also finishes third all-time in three-pointers made at 1,988 and despite scoring being secondary among his tasks he’s well into the Top 100 in all-time NBA scorers at 71st with 17,529 points.

Kidd's ability to pass and rebound made him a regular triple-double threat, and he retired ranked third all-time in the NBA for regular season triple-doubles with a career total of 107 and second in playoff triple-doubles with a career total of 11. He also won two Olympic gold medals with the US national team in 2000 and 2008.

Though his numbers say plenty about Jason’s career, it’s that leadership that will define it. Since entering the league, Kidd has made each team he played for better just by being on the floor.

A star at St. Joseph Notre Dame High School in Alameda, Calif., Kidd was swimming in offers from some of the best Division I schools. Kidd led the Pilots to back-to-back state titles and was awarded the Naismith Award as the nation's top high school player his senior year. He ranks fifth all-time among high school players in career assists (1,165), and is the national leader in career steals (719) and single-season steals (245 in 1991-92).

During his first year at California, Kidd averaged 13.0 points, 7.7 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 3.8 steals per game and was named the NCAA's Freshman of the Year. Kidd also led the Golden Bears back to the NCAA tournament in 1993, where they upset two-time defending champion Duke in the second round.

Though he failed to win a title at Cal, Kidd was named a finalist for both the Naismith and Wooden Awards following his sophomore season. He entered the draft in 1994 was selected by the Dallas Mavericks with the second overall pick.

Despite a dismal 1995-96 season for the Mavs -- they finished 26-56 with many player feuds and legal troubles -- Kidd recorded 783 assists and 553 rebounding, becoming just the sixth player in history to have more at least 700 assists and 500 boards in a season.

J-Kidd was traded to Phoenix in the middle of the 1996-97 season and led the Suns on an incredible late season run as they won 20 of their final 26 games to finish 40-42 and make the playoffs. The following year, Phoenix made another huge leap and won 56 games. They went on to make the postseason in each of Jason’s five seasons with the team.

Following the 2000-2001 season, Jason was traded from Phoenix to the New Jersey Nets where he made his biggest impact yet. The season prior to the trade, the Nets finished 26-56. Upon Jason’s arrival, they became an immediate playoff contender as he led a 26-game turn around, guiding the Nets to 52 regular season wins and all the way through the NBA playoffs to the NBA Finals for the very first time.

Though they could never break through and win the title, J-Kidd led the Nets to back-to-back Eastern Conference championships and playoff appearances in each of his six full seasons with the team.

In the midst of his seventh season in New Jersey, the Nets traded Jason back to the team that originally drafted him the Mavericks. Dallas made the postseason that year and in the two years that followed but it wasn’t until the 2010-11 season that everything broke the Mavericks’ way.

With Jason running the point, the Mavericks won 57 regular season games. They went on to defeat the Portland Trail Blazers in a six-game first round and swept the Los Angeles Lakers in the semifinals to reach the conference finals for just the fourth time in franchise history and first with J-Kidd.

Dallas went on to beat the favored Oklahoma City Thunder four games to one in the West Finals and the Miami Heat 4-2 in the Finals to capture the first championship in franchise history and Jason’s first title in his 17-year career.

Kidd averaged around 80 games per season during his first three full seasons in Dallas, but injuries caught up to him during the 2011-12 season, limiting to him just 48 games in the lockout-shortened season.

Jason remained a Maverick for one more season before signing a free agent contract with the Knicks in the 2012 offseason. In his only season in New York, Jason helped the Knicks reach marks the franchise hadn’t attained in years including the first Atlantic Division title since 1993-1994 as well as the first-50-win season and first playoff series win since 1999-2000. His veteran savvy and improved three-point shot helped the team jump out to a 23-10 start.

Unfortunately after defeating the Celtics in the first round, the Knicks fell short of the championship aspirations and lost to the Indiana Pacers in the East semifinals. Two weeks after that loss, Jason has decided to call it a career, but he will forever be remembered by his peers as one of the greatest they ever played with.

More information:
» Jason Kidd Hired as Brooklyn Nets Head Coach!
» Kidd Retires Third All-Time with 1,988 Career 3-Pointers (34.9%)

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