NBA / May 13, 2011 / 2:00 pm

Jason Kidd Needs A Ring

Jason Kidd

Jason Kidd, Dime #40

Jason Kidd is the NBA’s ultimate chameleon. It’s been 17 years and he’s still reinventing himself. He’s gone from a suped-up jet called “Ason” to the league’s most dangerous and valuable guard to a three-point shooting, shut-‘em-down-defensively old vet. Malcontent to team leader to grandpa. From Dallas to Phoenix to New Jersey and back again to Dallas. Full circle.

Now that the Mavs have vanquished the Mecca of the Western Conference, and seen their longtime nemesis from San Antonio sent home to the River Walk, this is the one chance the league’s oldest team will have to get those rings. For a 38-year-old point guard, this is it.

A ring. At this point in his career, that has to be Kidd’s total focus. Every ounce of sweat, every morning waking up to another 24 hours with more ice, more stretching and more treatment just to get back to where he was yesterday, fighting the battle he can’t possible win, it all points to this one opportunity, the chance to put a capping finish on his career.

If it happens, if Dallas wins it all this year, where does Jason Kidd stand in the all-time lineup of the greatest floor generals the NBA has ever seen? Would he be top five? Is he already there?

Kidd averaged 8.2 assists a game this year. That’s his lowest assist total in 16 years. Not since his rookie year (when he only averaged 7.7) has Kidd been such a terrible passer. All sarcasm aside, do you know how many other point guards have ever done that? None.

Magic Johnson averaged that many 11 times in a row, and probably would have kept going had he not been forced to retire in 1991. But he was and that’s history. John Stockton did it 12 times in a row, and 15 overall. He was the closest. Oscar Robertson hit it in 10 seasons. Isiah Thomas averaged that just nine times his whole career, Gary Payton only five times, Tiny Archibald three times. Steve Nash has done it eight times in a row. At 37 years old, he’s only halfway there.

Looking at a few of today’s best point guards, Chris Paul and Deron Williams would have to average at least 8.2 assists until 2022 to match Kidd.

Jason Kidd also has over 16,000 points, 11,000 assists and 8,000 rebounds in his career. You know how many other point guards have done that? Zero. You know how many other players have done that? Zero. No one has even come close.

You’ve probably heard Kidd is third all-time in three pointers made. But turn that statistic around and it sounds even more impressive: besides the immortal shooters, Reggie Miller and Ray Allen, no one has ever made more threes than Kidd. Ever.

Nothing about Kidd’s game was ever fascinating or particularly intoxicating. Can you think of a single highlight that stands out above the rest? Maybe his alley-oops off the glass to Kenyon Martin, but that’s about it. He has no signature style, no single game that stood out above the rest. We remember his near MVP-play in New Jersey, but face it, the Nets were still the Nets. No one really watched (the TV ratings back this up). He was never embraced as Nash was in Phoenix even though he positively affects the game in all the ways that Nash can’t. Payton had a swagger Kidd never had. Magic had an appeal Kidd never had. Isiah had an image Kidd never had.

People are so quick to point out he wasn’t a great scorer. Well that wasn’t his strength, wasn’t his style. He didn’t need to do that. The pressure he put on defenses with the sickest, and fastest, end-to-end moves you’ll ever see was enough. But wait, I thought being a point guard wasn’t about scoring anyways? Isn’t that what we preach? Kidd is a product of all that we hope our point guards become – unselfish, a willing defender, someone who could impact the game in any way – and yet we ignore him (we also turn around and criticize other PGs for scoring too much).

Kidd is a messy collage of great point guards, a little from here, a little from there. He isn’t quite the defender the Glove was, but he’s solid enough. He’s not quite the outside shooter that Nash is, but he’s made enough threes to make up for it. He doesn’t bring quite the same excitement as Magic did, but you can argue his court vision is just as great. He was never the general of a dynasty like Bob Cousy was. But he’s played in two NBA Finals, and been in the playoffs every year since 1997.

Kidd is a survivor. Other point guards fell off much sooner than Kidd, sometimes for things they couldn’t control. Magic was abruptly done at 31. Isiah was never the same once he hit 30. The Big O’s body began to wear down after a decade. Nash never became a truly elite player until he hit the desert. Payton and Archibald both had primes that came and went quickly.

But Kidd kept coming. He’s on the books for one more season next year. Next March, he will turn 39. Can he keeping playing? Sure. This past season was really the first year that his production dipped, his PER the lowest of his career (14.4). He’s been as consistent as any player ever. But will he want to keep playing? Will he want to keep fighting a losing battle, the fight that won’t ever let him win?

A ring is all he needs. If he gets it, it’ll validate a career that has to be one of the best runs ever by a point guard. And by that, I mean at the very top of the conversation with anyone not named Magic or the Big O.

With a ring, where would Kidd be ranked with the greatest point guards ever?

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  • http://www.dimemag.com panchitoooo

    for me J Kidd is already one of the best point guards ive ever seen play. i remember watching him in Cal and crossing fools nasty in New Jersey. they say you lose your vision once you get older but i guess that rule doesnt apply to the eyes in back of Kidds head.

    i hope that the Mavs can win the championship this year so that it will spark something in the Lakers to come back stronger than ever next year. if that doesnt happen then GO HEAT!!!

  • Me

    i thought i heard on tv someone say he was third all time in 3’s. I assumed I heard it wrong, that maybe they were talking about dirk or somebody else. But that’s ridiculous, I only thought he really became a 3 point shooter when he got back to Dallas. Guess not.

    I don’t think he’s underrated. I just think Dallas players go under the radar: solid, good team, but not truly a contender. year in and year out, they’re expected to get to the playoffs but not do much. Same thing to the players when they go there.

    I remember watching him in the NCAA tourney i think it was his freshman year, maybe sophomore. I’ve always had an appreciation for TRUE point guards, and he immediately became my fave pg. The prototype really, because the skills that make a great true pg have little to do with age. Any true pg should be able to play effectively well into his late 30’s.

    I’d say he’s easily top 5 pg ever. Honestly I’d put him above Magic, and have for awhile now, even if it’s most likely because of his shortened career.

    I wonder what those laker teams (and stockton’s jazz teams) would have been like with a Prime Kidd instead of Magic and Stockton. I think its interesting to ponder because it’s not clear they would have been much better or worse, but definitely very different. I feel like Magic benefitted from having better teammates than Kidd and Stockton.

    Personally off the top of my head, only Stockton was better.

  • ChasePaper

    Nothing about Kidd’s game was fascinating ? Are u serious ? The no look passes are fascinating enough. Dime is buggin.

  • Keith

    We keep hearing about players losing half a step and making up for it in different ways. Kobe went from a slasher to an all-round scorer. MJ developed his game, Timmy has lowered his minutes, Payton went into role-player status etc etc. Father time hasn’t lost a game ye, but Kidd is giving him his toughest 1-on-1 yet.

    Kidd has never been the best player in the NBA in a single season, but can you name anybody who has had a more consistant career in that time? Guards are supposed to drop off by the time the hit 32. Even big men like Shaq, TD and Garnett had to slow down. Kidd just went out and won. He’s not ringseeking by playing garbage minutes. If he wins a championship it will be as a vital part of the team.

    AS a sonics fan i’ll always be a Payton fan and enjoy his swagger, but Kidd had the better career. He does deserve a ring.

  • yoda

    j-kidd is one of my all time favorites. and i don’t think he is underrated. for every true basketball fan, kidd is player you want on your team. i always said, i’d take kidd over nash, even in his mvp days. he might not be a scorer as nash, but he brings everything else, willing passer (maybe best i have seen, since magic stopped playing before i started to watch nba), good defender and he could score when he had to. series against lakers was tough for me. i’m a laker fan, so i want my team to take a championship, but i think kidd deserves ring so i’m not that mad that lakers lost. i hope jason will win it this year. in “me first” era, kidd showed you can be unselfish and yet win and dominate the game

  • heckler

    what kinda article is this?

    i didnt learn anything i didnt already know. your sounding as if jason kidd was just snubbed for the hall of fame.

    he is nice. ive always been a fan. but even with a ring, he wont over take magic, stockton, gp, isiah, oscar or any of them. he’ll still be a top 10 point guard though.

    but i dont understand why this article has a tone of “pleaing” a case for jason kidd.

    we all know that jason kidd was a stud until 2yrs ago.

    and by the way….if dallas gets to the finals and does NOT win, you cant feel sorry for jason kidd. he would have had 3 chances in an nba final and gone 0-3 like karl malone.

    cant feel bad when a player gets 3 different chances; i dont care who the opponent is….

  • http://recoverthegospel.com Eddie

    THAT’s how you write an article…

  • Promoman

    I’d say that Jason is a Top 4 all-time point guard. The only ringless guard I’d put ahead of him is John Stockton, who I’d pick over Isiah Thomas.


    Toni Braxton!

  • Me

    i’d take him over magic, DEFINITELY GP, nash, and zeke, only because he’s been better for waaaaaay longer and I’d prefer a pass first pg.

    for me, in terms of who i’d take for a career as my starting pg:

    1. stockton
    2. Kidd
    3. Magic
    4. Zeke
    5. GP
    6. Nash (he’d be number four if he wasn’t a late bloomer.)

  • Celts Fan

    @me – you can’t be any older than 15. GP is a legit argument (though I’d take GP,) Nash is a no brainer (that kidd’s better) but Zeke and Magic is a friggin joke. Magic won 5 rings and a few MVPs and Zeke was the best player on a back-to-back champ and is considered one of the 2 best “normal sized” PGs in history along w/ Stockton. goddamn bro…

    You can argue a few of these guys all you want, which is why I like the idea of tiers. argue the specific positioning of anyone within the same group.

    The top 2 HAS TO BE
    1. Magic (there’s no good argument he’s not the PG GOAT except for his versatility. Still, he handled the rock and set up the offense.)
    2. Oscar (argue he’s a 2 if you want, the guard position was very vague then, you weren’t a 1 or a 2, you were just a guard, for the record, I call Oscar a 1 for all the dimes and Jerry West – my #3 or 4 SG ever – a 2 cuz he’s much more known for his shooting than passing/averaging a triple double like the Big O.)

    3. Stockton
    4. Zeke

    After this untouchable group at the top, I’d say the next tier is
    5. Cousy (gotta respect the old heads, and the man did steer the ship of a dynasty, meanwhile Kidd is ringless. Btw haters, i know you’re coming, you can’t argue Wilt as one of the best players of all time, then say Cousy wouldn’t be shit today, cuz Wilt wasn’t exactly going up against Shaq and Dwight back then either. It’s tricky to compare eras, you just gotta give it up to the legends.)
    6. Kidd (in their primes, I would’ve taken GP, but the longevity and improved jumper from Kidd makes me begrudingly bump him above one of my favorites ever. Just know that if you’d asked me this even a year ago, I would’ve said GP. Kidd’s still playing so damn well tho.)
    7. GP

    The “I Guess Top 7 PGs Ever Doesn’t Have a Great Ring to It, so I Should Finish Out The List” tier
    8. Walt Frazier
    9. Nash (even this seems too high. he wasn’t even an all-star til rules changes forced teams to change how they defended him and be much less physical, which opened up the floor for guys like him. Having said all that, his work since those changes has been BRILLIANT. One of the most gifted passers I’ve ever seen. He couldn’t defend a handicapped 5 year old and he’s never even been to the Finals, much less won anything – completely Robert Sarver’s fault, PHX fans should boycott the team til he sells… the team, not more players/draft picks.)

    The “Waiting for CP3, DWill, Rose, etc. to come and take it” Spot
    10. Tiny Archibauld (once lead the L in scoring and dimes in the same year.)

  • SlimeBucket

    Magic Johnson is a top 5 all time player. ESPN even claimed he could be the only player to be even possibly considered to be better than MJ. http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/dailydime?page=dailydime-GreatestPointGuards

    The only weakness Johnson had was 3 point shooting percentage but he obviously didn’t take too many since his career FG% is 52% which is ridiculously considering how much more physical defense for for wing players compared to today.

    And from Larry Bird:
    “Magic is head-and-shoulders above everybody else,” Larry Bird once observed in the Chicago Sun-Times. “I’ve never seen [anybody] as good as him.”

  • Fei

    Regarding Kidd’s plays being not spectacular or fascinating, I respectfully disagree. Anyone who’s ever watched Kidd play, especially in his Prime, would agree that he is one of the most exciting player to watch in NBA history. Kidd’s fast breaks, his full court alley oops, off the glass oops, the bowling pass, all manners of fakes and bounce passes, chest passes, behind the backs, they’re all Kidd’s signature moves, how can people not acknowledge that? I would not put Kidd behind Magic in terms of passing creativity, and I would put him above Magic in half court sets passing. Kidd is ALL about making the perfect pass, and that is to be his legacy. You can legitimately say that Kidd is the best PG in history in making the most perfect and comfortable pass in EVERY situation. I was captured by a single pass by Kidd in the 02 All Star game, and no other PG has been able to capture the same way since.

    Kidd wasn’t as good a defender as Payton both in their primes, but he remains a good defender on bigger guards, and an exceptional help defender 17 years on, so I would say overall Kidd is the better defender. Also as mentioned in the article, Kidd is the single best rebounding Guard in NBA history, and these rebounds are all hard fought and justly gained, which starts his full court signature fast break, so that’s another advantage Kidd has over any other PG.

    Seriously, this article in my opinion underrated Kidd more than most commentators I’ve heard, or most players and coach opinions I’ve read about. Kidd’s legacy is not his longevity, it’s his absolute dominance in games without needing to score a single point, it’s him being the sole representative of the Superstar model PG for all of his prime, it’s his incredible BBIQ that transcends age and talent. Even now Kidd is still considered one of the top 5-10 players most exciting to watch, he’s still one if the few that makes opposite team’s crowd gasp in awe over an unbelievable play that’s not a dunk or a block. Kidd is a top 5-6 PG in NBA history, and if he wins a ring, he will move past Cousy and Stockton because of his ability to lead a team as the core player to excellence.