Jason Kidd announced through the New York Knicks' website that he is retiring after 19 years in the league. Kidd is by any measure one of the best point guards in NBA history. Six All-NBA first team or second teams, nine All Defensive first or second teams. Per the Knicks release, he averaged 12.6 points, 8.7 assists. 6.3 rebounds and 1.93 steals per game over his career. He was the best all-around point guard in the league from 1999-2004. His style of play and the eveolution of his career is everything you would want from a point guard.
As a Spurs fan, I always wanted Jason Kidd on the team. It almost happened after the 2003 Finals when the Spurs beat the Nets and it was widely reported San Antonio would pursue Kidd to pair him with Tim Duncan. It didn't happen, but the Spurs would've become the best team in the league for the next three or four years, right? Long term, well that's a different story but it's a fascinating case study on "what could've been." I'm still so fascinated by this scenario that I wrote about this during last year's lockout. What would've happened to Tony Parker. Would he have been traded? Would he have been a sixth man? Mostly I didn't care, because DUNCAN AND KIDD.
The Parker part might be the most important part of this and it has virtually nothing to do with Parker. As someone who was just a little too young to really appreciate Magic Johnson and John Stockton, Kidd (and probably Gary Payton) was the guy you looked at when you wanted to show someone what playing point guard was all about. Pass first, great defender, knew exactly when to push the pace, knew exactly where each player would and where exactly to put the pass so his man could score.
It was Kidd's game that built this perception in my mind of what a point guard should be. He's the reason I irrationally get frustrated with Parker, Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose. They're all tremendous players, but I want them to be more like Kidd, even if there's no reason why they should. That's the impact Kidd had on me as a basketball fan. I wanted his Cal jersey, I wanted his cool Nike signature shoes but mostly I wanted other point guards to try to play like him. He even aged gracefully, developing a set jump shot that helped the Dallas Mavericks win an NBA title.
So now Kidd has retired just days after Grant Hill, his fellow 1995 Rookie of the Year winner, announced his retirement. All we have left from the 1994 draft is Juwan Howard. Imagine how weird it's going to be when the guys left from the 1996 draft, especially Ray Allen, Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant, decide to hang it up.