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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Jason Kidd: A Winner and a Champion

It is easy to reduce the storyline of a series or a season to the tales of a few titans but that is not accurate or fair; Dirk Nowitzki is unquestionably the headliner for the 2011 NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks but all 15 players will receive championship rings and all 15 players contributed in some way to Dallas' triumph.

Doug Collins has said that if he ever writes an autobiography he will title it Always a Winner but Never a Champion, acknowledging that there is a difference between being a winner and being a champion; Dallas point guard Jason Kidd is both a winner and a champion, adding the 2011 NBA title to a resume that already included two Olympic gold medals (2000, 2008). Kidd played an underappreciated role in revitalizing Team USA and it is not a coincidence that during an era when Team USA struggled at times in FIBA competitions he posted a 46-0 record during his FIBA career, winning three gold medals in three tries in the FIBA Americas Championship (1999, 2003, 2007) in addition to his success in the Olympics; Kidd's game has always been about court vision, unselfishness, intensity and defense, precisely the qualities that are necessary to build a championship team at any level of the sport.

Kidd was the headliner when the New Jersey Nets advanced to the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003 and he could be called the "anti-Stephon Marbury": teams tended to become worse when they acquired Marbury only to become better as soon as they cut ties with him, while the opposite is true of Kidd, who led the Phoenix Suns to five straight playoff berths before guiding the Nets to their best years as an NBA franchise and then helping the Mavericks take the final steps on the road to their long-sought first NBA title. Kidd has participated in the playoffs in 15 of his 17 NBA seasons, while Marbury--who posted much gaudier statistics and was at one time (prior to a late-career swoon) the only player other than Oscar Robertson with career averages of more than 20 ppg and more than 8 apg--made the playoffs just five times in his 13 seasons, with the last of those postseason trips coming as a little-used reserve for the defending champion Boston Celtics.

Kidd's passing, rebounding and defense have always been impeccable but during his rookie season he shot just .385 from the field, .272 from three point range and .698 from the free throw line. Kidd diligently worked on his shooting stroke until he became an above average free throw shooter (exceeding .800 in nine seasons, with a career mark of .784) and a solid three point shooter (.350 or better in seven seasons, with a career mark of .348). Kidd's career field goal percentage is just .401 but that is deceptive because for the past several years a large number of his shots have come from behind the three point arc.

Even though Kidd has lost some of his quickness the four-time member of the All-Defensive First Team is still an effective--and underrated--defensive player, as he showed during Dallas' 2011 playoff run when he performed credibly at that end of the court against elite scorers Kevin Durant and LeBron James; my All-Defensive Team choices usually match the official selections later made by the league's head coaches but one of the few times that I disagreed with the coaches came in 2010 when I felt that Kidd still deserved Second Team honors.

The 2011 Mavericks will always be viewed as Dirk Nowitzki's team and their championship will always be considered primarily as a line on Nowitzki's Hall of Fame resume but Jason Kidd is also a future Hall of Famer, so that championship certainly belongs on his resume as well: Kidd's passing, defense and leadership were vital ingredients in Dallas' championship recipe.

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posted by David Friedman @ 6:16 PM



At Tuesday, June 21, 2011 11:48:00 PM, Anonymous boyer said...

I've always liked Kidd, but I'm really glad he didn't win either mvp award in 02 or 03 over duncan, or I'd probably root against him. I guess it's not his fault if he won either award, more the media's fault. I used to like nash, don't really dislike him, but definitely don't shed a tear when his teams struggle, and unfortunately nash is viewed a greater player and kobe a lesser player because of these misplaced mvp awards.

Anyway, I definitely agree with how vital Kidd has been to his teams in the nba and in international play. And he has definitely been a superb defender and a great rebounding PG. But, he like some other players don't have those gaudy stats, and aren't viewed as good as they should be. Leadership, intangibles, etc., regardless of what some stat guru might say, can't be crunched into a spreadsheet. I recently read something comparing marion's career stats to pippen's career stats making a case that pippen wasn't much better than marion, and the stats looked very similar, though marion's stats will continue to fall some as he ages, but it just seems crazy to me what some people come up with these days.

At Wednesday, June 22, 2011 1:02:00 AM, Blogger elreiec said...

Hey David,

As usual, a nice refreshing read. It's always great to hear your insight.

I'm so happy for J-Kidd. He finally got his well-deserved ring (hopefully Mark Cuban decides to give the Mavs rings instead of whatever else he has planned).

Anyways, I wanted to bring up an interesting case in comparing the ageless wonders in Kidd and Nash. I remember prior to Nash joining Phoenix for his second stint, people viewed Kidd much better of the two.

After Nash won his back-to-back MVPs and bringing the run-and-gun style with D'Antoni, I felt as though casual fans thought Nash was better.

The two are different in their own respects: Nash being a fantastic and underrated, in my opinion, shooter. He never gets mentioned as one of the all-time greats in shooting. However, as you mentioned in the article I think Kidd's defense and his All-Defensive selections have gone overlooked.

A Nash vs. Kidd debate can be so intriguing on so many levels since one has 2 MVPs while the other is an NBA champion.

So my question is how do you see and compare the two?

At Wednesday, June 22, 2011 7:02:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kidd has always been one of my favourite players. His stats were kinda modest, but take a closer look & he almost averaged a triple double (13 + 6.5 + 9.1 for his carear). But more importantly, i loved the impact he had on a team (Winning!.

Kidd will always have a place on my team.


At Wednesday, June 22, 2011 2:50:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I feel the same way about Nash; I enjoy watching him play and respect his ability but his career is tainted to some degree because the media bestowed two MVPs on him that he did not deserve. That is not Nash's fault but it almost makes you not want to see him succeed because then this would be perceived as retroactive justification for the MVPs.

The idea that Pippen and Marion are even close to being equal is so absurd that it does not even deserve further comment.

At Wednesday, June 22, 2011 2:54:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Both are great players but I'd take Kidd both in terms of peak value and in terms of comparing his career overall to Nash's career overall. Kidd's only weakness was shooting but he became an above average free throw shooter and a credible three point threat; Kidd passes, rebounds and can defend multiple positions. Nash is a first rate passer and shooter but he can't even defend his own position, let alone defend other positions.

At Wednesday, June 22, 2011 2:55:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I don't agree with your math in terms of Kidd "almost averaging a triple double" (6 is a long way from 10 when discussing career per game averages) but there is no question that Kidd is a great all-around player.

At Wednesday, June 22, 2011 5:42:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I don't think there's an argument to be made in terms of comparing Steve Nash to Jason Kidd. Besides shooting, did Nash honestly do anything better than Kidd in their respective primes? I don't think so.

Jason Kidd was going to the hall of fame whether or not he eventually won a championship. He had a very strong claim to the 2002 MVP award that was eventually taken by Tim Duncan.

I would argue that Steve Nash is only considered a potential hall of famer because of the two MVP awards, both of which were won in years in which he was not the true "most valuable player."

None of this is to say that Nash isn't a very good player. But I definitely think his legacy is greatly inflated by the individual hardware.

This past decade or so of MVP votes should really make the league take a hard look at the process. Shaq and Kobe are arguably the greatest players of the post Jordan era, and they each only have one to their name.

At Wednesday, June 22, 2011 10:40:00 PM, Anonymous boyer said...

Yea, I don't see how you can even have a legitimate debate of kidd vs. nash. I don't see how nash is even close to kidd in terms of overall career or in their primes. Nash is one of the worst defenders I've ever seen. Even Fisher schools him.

But, the thing about Nash that bothers me the most is not necessarily that he sucks on defense, but he never seemed to even try to improve his defense or make defense a priority for his team overall. And I don't really see how Nash improved from his playing days with the mavs to his playing days with the suns. He was clearly the #2 or even #3 guy, at times, with the mavs, and now suddenly in 05 and 06, he's the best player in the league, it just doesn't make any sense to me. Unfortunately, the media votes for reg. season mvp. He was a perfect fit for d'antoni's system, though, and was entertaining to watch, but had a great supporting cast for years and never made even one finals.

At Wednesday, June 22, 2011 11:49:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


While Kidd did have an MVP caliber season in 2002, I agree with the voters who gave that honor to Duncan.

In articles that I wrote three years ago and
four years ago I noted that, divorced from the hype and the two MVPs, Steve Nash's stats and impact are very similar to Mark Price's. Price is one of my favorite players and he could have been a borderline HoFer if he had been healthy enough to have a full career but Price was never a serious MVP candidate.

Price, John Stockton, Kevin Johnson and Tim Hardaway each had seasons comparable to Nash's best without ever seriously being considered MVP candidates.

At Wednesday, June 22, 2011 11:51:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Even before the Mavs acquired Kidd, they essentially replaced Nash with Jason Terry--a solid player but hardly a HoF candidate--and became better than they had ever been with Nash.

At Thursday, June 23, 2011 12:44:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


its bay bizzness we put out the best athletes other than chicago area. bill rusell barry bonds o j simpson tom brady joe morgan lynn swan. jason and gary payton cc sabathia list goes on and on. most slept on area in the country. but i remeber j at st joe puttin it down been a great player gets teammates involved. top 4 point ever. he been a joy to watch. but bay area hot bed for talent.

At Thursday, June 23, 2011 10:34:00 AM, Anonymous DanielSong39 said...

Jason Kidd I believe was one of the three best point guards along with Billups and Nash, and finally received an overdue championship ring.

One can only hope that Nash will follow in the footsteps of Billups and Kidd and have the opportunity to play for a championship team.

I prefer to enjoy what each of these three players bring to the game without trying to rank the three. I hope Kidd will be able to show us a few more good moments (and triple-doubles!) before his career finally comes to an end.

At Thursday, June 23, 2011 3:56:00 PM, Anonymous DanielSong39 said...

By the way, who do you believe will be the ones to carry the torch? I would go with Rose, Paul, Rondo, and Williams for the time being. Wall and Irving may join this group - it'll be exciting to watch!

At Friday, June 24, 2011 3:51:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Daniel Song 39:

All four of your candidates have already established themselves as All-Stars and Rondo has already won a championship but if I had to pick one player from that group as the most likely torch carrier then I would pick Rose: he is the most explosive, he seems to be the most durable and I like his demeanor (confident but not boastful).


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