When Jason Kidd walked off the court in San Antonio as a member of the Nets way back in 2003, he walked off a Hall of Famer. He walked off as one of the best point guards in history. But he also walked off without a championship. For Kidd, the 2001-02 and ‘02-‘03 seasons were arguably two of the best of his career, both stats-wise and record-wise. Those two years saw Kidd make either the first or second All-NBA team and All-Defensive team while leading the Nets to the NBA Finals.
But he was still title-less. The Nets got progressively worse the following seasons and Kidd battled knee injuries while falling under the radar. He was still an All-Star and future Hall of Famer, but he was losing a step or two. It was clear a change was needed.
Now, eight years later, Kidd has his ring. His third NBA Finals appearance was the charm. And the difference, especially at an age where decline is supposed to happen? He found his “J.”
Kidd was never a particularly awful shooter. But for a man who is now surprisingly third all-time in three-pointers, he wasn’t known for his shot.
During those non-Finals years with the Nets, Kidd began to work on his shot with the help of Nets shooting coach Bob Thate.
Thate told NBA.com that Kidd, “by himself, he was good. In practice, he was good. In games he was getting better. It really kicked over in the summer of 2007.”
When he was traded to the Mavericks in 2008, a revival was triggered within Kidd. All facets of his game appeared re-energized. Sharing a court with Dirk Nowitzki will do that, but Kidd’s jumper was clearly improving.
In that same NBA.com article, Kidd gave much of the credit to Thate for extending his career.
And now, two years shy of 40, Kidd proved that you don’t have to be in your prime to help lead a team to a title. You just need select skills like floor vision, passing and finally, shooting. Or maybe you just have to be Jason Kidd. The man who, after 17 years, finally worked his way to a championship.
“I’m happy for Kidd,” Nowitzki told the New York Post. “What a warrior he is at 38, chasing the most athletic players in this league out there, doing a great job on them, and also leading our squad. He’s been in this league forever and had two chances. I’m so glad we could make this happen for him.”
Everything came together this season for Kidd and the Mavs. Not only was Kidd’s play a necessary and instrumental piece to the Mavericks’ championship puzzle, but his leadership and knowledge of the game were non-tangible evidence of his greatness. And for a man known for his assists, his now-seemingly reliable jumper probably didn’t hurt either.
“His view of the game is so different,” Rick Carlisle told the Post. “He’s savant-like.”
And open to change. Plenty of players wouldn’t bother changing their games after leading their teams to back-to-back Finals. But Kidd did. And now, all these later, it’s paid off — in the form of a title.
What do you think?
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