Despite being one of the best point guards of his generation, Jason Kidd had to wait a long time before becoming a champion. He came close as the face of the New Jersey Nets, but he finally got to taste glory during a particularly momentous Finals matchup later in his career. Kidd has continued to contribute to the game after retirement by embarking on a coaching career in the NBA.
Jason Kidd toils to get the Nets over the hump
Jason Kidd’s impact on the game was immediate, but his quest for a championship took decades before coming to fruition. It was clear from the jump that he was suited for the pro game.
He was Co-Rookie of the Year in 1995, and was named to the first of his 10 All-Star teams the next year. But attaining true success in the playoffs took a few more years to achieve. He only won one playoff series in his first seven years in the league.
Kidd found much better results in the postseason once he was traded to the New Jersey Nets. The Nets weren’t flooded with talent at the time. The trade that sent Kidd to New Jersey involved the Nets’ seventh overall pick in the 2001 draft.
But moving to the Eastern Conference was a boon for Kidd’s career. He transformed the franchise immediately. They doubled their win total in his first year (26 to 52), Kidd finished second in MVP voting, and the Nets made it to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history — where they were promptly swept by the Los Angeles Lakers.
Kidd led New Jersey back to the NBA Finals in the following season, but they lost yet again, this time to the San Antonio Spurs in six games. That was as close as Kidd would get while playing for the team. Injuries to Kidd and his supporting cast and the improvement of other teams in the conference kept the Nets from ever making another Finals push.
The title window had closed, and something had to change. Kidd was traded just before the 2008 trade deadline, to the team that brought him into the league in the first place.
A return to the Dallas Mavericks
Jason Kidd returned to a Dallas Mavericks team in search of veteran leadership. The team was labeled mentally weak after repeated underwhelming performances in the playoffs, most famously in 2007, when Dirk Nowitzki was awarded the MVP trophy after his team had been knocked out of the playoffs by the eight seed Golden State Warriors.
His impact was less sudden than it was when he joined New Jersey. During his first three years with the team, the Mavericks only won a single series. But those relative failures are now irrelevant after the events 2011.
The Mavericks, who lost their starting small forward Caron Butler to a season-ending injury, finished third in the Western Conference standings and were not considered a favorite going into the postseason. They surprised many by making it to the Finals against the Miami Heat.
The Heat’s trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh were widely expected to win, but Dallas had other plans. The Mavericks shocked the world and beat Miami in six games. Nowitzki rightly gets most of the credit for the victory, but Kidd’s play was also crucial.
He played smart defense while averaging nine points, seven assists, five rebounds and two steals a game during the title run. At 38 years of age, he was the oldest point guard to start for a championship team.
What has Jason Kidd done since retiring?
Kidd played one more year with the team before moving on to the New York Knicks for one final year. After retiring as a player, Kidd moved into the coaching world with the Brooklyn Nets.
His career as a coach is a strange one. He’s had moderate success in the role — the Nets went 44-38 and won a playoff series. However, he is mostly remembered for antics more than play. Early in his Nets tenure, he was fined $50,000 for telling a player to bump into him while he spilled water on the court to get an extra timeout at the end of a game.
Kidd left the Nets after the season after failing in an attempt to seize more power within the organization. He became the coach for the Milwaukee Bucks, giving him the duty of developing Giannis Antetokounmpo into a star. Antetokounmpo certainly got better, but the Bucks were still underperforming. He was fired in the middle of the 2017-18 season. Milwaukee was 23-22 at the time.
Despite his mediocre coaching career, Kidd was rumored to be the new coach for the Lakers last summer. He did join the organization, albeit as an assistant coach. There were concerns that he might try to steal the head job from Frank Vogel, but those fears haven’t come to pass.
Kidd may not have won a ton of rings, but his effect on basketball is still palpable. He is no doubt headed for the Hall of Fame one day.