NBA / Jun 22, 2011 / 3:15 pm

Never Call NBA Champion Jason Kidd “Ason” Again

Jason Kidd

Jason Kidd, Dime #40

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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  • http://www.dimemag.com Dylan Murphy

    Great piece, Rachel! Jason kid really did reinvent himself. Definitely a tough thing to do.

  • Promoman

    I think in Jason’s case it had to do with how he came up basketball-wise. We all know the stories where when he was playing at the parks, he wasn’t even allowed to play unless he gave up the ball 100% of the time. I think that shit affected him mentally when it came to shooting. People, no matter how fucking bum assed they are, do have a tendency to try you so they can shine and they’ll try to sell it you as “teamwork” when it comes to pickup/streetball.

  • heckler

    he is just a perimeter shooter now. id like to see him penetrate and score more at the rim. he aint that fast, but hes crafty enough to still get to the rim. hes not shooting enough free throws anymore.
    but ive always been a fan. OUTRAGE that jason kidd wasnt the MVP in 2002 (sorry tim duncan, but kidd had the better season).

    if we played 17yrs in the league, some of us might creep into the top 5 in 3ptrs made.

    id like to see kid play point guard out of the post more often. ala rod strickland, gary payton and magic johnson. hes big & wide enough and skilled enough passer to PUNISH teams and their point guards on the block. too many pgs are pure perimeter players. id like to see Kidd direct the offense more often (now) from down low instead of at the top of the key.

  • EN FUEGO

    “J”ason ain’t no “Kid(d)” anymore.

  • Mandirigma

    @Heckler

    If Kidd plays from the post, he’ll use up all his strength in trying to get position. Good if he’s 25. Not when you’re a few years shy of 40.

    Do that and he’d be winded by the 4th quarter.

    And that post about Kidd attacking the rim more and getting FTs was made by someone lost in the fantasy league.

    Kidd 2011 = spot-up shooter, crafty defender (can’t stop ultra quick PGs, but can guard anyone from Kobe to DWade) and still the best passer in the game (nash over dribbles. and the only way he’s able to roam into the pain the past few years is because of all the god damn rule changes. in the 90s, he’d be on the bad side of charles oakley’s elbow).

  • sans

    all these later? nice article, shouldn’t whimper out like that. does your editor read anything before its posted?

  • http://deleted dagwaller

    Great piece!

    Good points, heckler.

  • JAY

    I agree with heckler’s assessment about Kidd playing from the post. and disagree with mandirigma saying it will “use up all his strength”. I’m a bit confused by that statement. I’m going to assume you meant “use up his energy” because if a dude is strong, then he’s strong. If you’ve ever had an strength advantage in the post you’d know you don’t get weak by posting up.

    Anyway, I don’t think taking his guy in the post will tire him out. He one of the bigger point guards in the league. He has the size and strength advantage. If anything, his defender will get tired try to prevent the bigger Kidd from getting position. Take Mark Jackson and Jalen Rose for example. They weren’t known to be players who kept themselves in elite physical shape. They were bigger perimeter guys who thrived in the post. It’s less tiring for guys with a size advantage to lean on smaller defenders in the post, than to run around screens trying to shake a defender.

    Think about it. Haven’t you ever taken a smaller guy into the post? How tiring is it compared to running around the perimeter? Conversely, have you ever tried to prevent a bigger, stronger player from getting position in the post who was constantly leaning on you? For the smaller defender, it’s hell. It’s a great way for Kidd to tire out the smaller, quicker players that Kidd has to guard on the other end.

    Good point heckler. Kidd is obviously open to evolving his game. Maybe adding a post game is next. Can you imagine if Nowitzki learns who to lob a proper post pass? The idea of 7′ Dirk throwing entry passes to Kidd is a bit scary.