Jason Kidd has retired, and I wanted to take a moment to recognize one of the greatest talents I have ever worked with. This is a guy who if you knew him, you figured that he would play forever. He seemed limitless with energy and his knowledge of the game wasn’t learned, it was his DNA. Go watch any game tape and you’ll see.
I was the strength and conditioning coach for the Dallas Mavericks when we drafted him in 1994. He came in as a rookie and as I remember him, he just came to the court every day and played hard. He didn’t simply learn the pro game, he absorbed it.
The game plan became; give Jason the ball and get out of the way and keep your eyes open because you never knew when he would feed it to you, or where it was coming from.
When a young Jason created in transition and gave an assist that made the veterans shake their heads in amazement, you knew he was something special. I was only with him for a few years, but it was my pleasure to have had that experience.
Dallas was a great opportunity for Jason since we had some outstanding veterans on our team to learn from; Brad Davis, Rolando Blackman, Derek Harper, Jimmy Jackson and Morlen Wiley. It seems that I remember management thinking that this was “Jason’s team” a phrase meaning a new king has been anointed, but that was not necessarily the case. Jason just wanted to play basketball and then play some more. It could be someone else’s team, and let Jason feed him the ball. It was that selfless style of play that made him great.
He was a game changer, take over and make things happen, a subpar shooter who continued to improve and eventually become one of the greatest 3 point shooters of all time. His qualities of quickness, balance, court vision and creativity were unmatched. His motor was always running, his radar was always finding and things happened in a split second.
I’m sure somebody has or will calculate how many seasons in terms of games that he has really played. Nineteen NBA seasons is one thing, but add in playoffs and the Olympics; you have a lot of games. I’m sure the tank must be low physically and mentally, but the fans, the game and myself were all fortunate to see his magic on the court. He may not be put in the same category or conversation as Larry or Magic or Kobe or Lebron, but he should.
I would always tell my sons as they grew up playing various sport to “Play hard, do your best, make plays and make everyone around you better.” Kinda sounds like Jason Kidd.
- Coach King