Why Jason Kidd was My Favorite player.
When thinking about my favorite New York athlete it really wasn’t a hard choice.
Yes, I loved Derek Jeter (like most kids) on the Yankees growing up and I was a huge fan of Darrelle Revis on the Jets. However, my all-time favorite athlete comes from my favorite sport.
And that athlete is Jason Kidd.
As a youngster, my favorite basketball team was the New Jersey Nets, mostly because of my dad’s season tickets. Knowing nothing of his past situation with the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks I gravitated toward Kidd simply because he made the game look fun. Watching Kidd play was magical. It was a thrill traveling to the swamp known as the Meadowlands and watching what type of basketball sorcery he was going to do next.
The way he commanded an offense while also being such a staunch defender was impressive. Not to mention the numerous amounts of alley-oop lobs to guys like Kenyon Martin, Richard Jefferson, and Vince Carter.
It was quite the sight to behold. Kidd was able to turn the franchise around seemingly overnight. Back-to-back NBA Finals appearances in his first two seasons with a team that was shrouded in mediocrity. Who does that?
As someone who was from a predominantly Knicks-oriented family, and someone going to school in New York, Kidd made me proud to be a Nets fan. I had his T-shirts, jersey, and even the drawstring backpack with his name/number on the back. Everyone knew I was the “Nets fan” and everyone knew who my favorite player was.
Kidd also played a huge role in the development of myself as a basketball player. Without the gift of height, I was always playing point guard which is what made it even easier to have Kidd as my favorite player. I figured “he’s the short guy on the court just like me”.
At first, it was merely just imitation. Trying his no look passes on the playground and copying his “kiss to the rim” free throw routine during intramural and rec league games. I even pulled off his famous “behind-the-back tip pass” once during a game. Never got around to attempting his bowling ball pass though.
However, as I got older, I began to really watch and study Kidd’s game. Not just for the highlight reel plays but how he made his teammates better. And that’s what I strove for throughout my days playing AAU. Ironically, I didn’t develop much of a jumper until much later in my playing years just like Kidd because passing was all I really focused on. Leading guys to the right spots, fitting a bounce pass in that nobody expected, and just having an innate basketball IQ on the court. These are the things I tried my best to emulate.
For the impact Kidd had on me I’ve never really had another favorite player in the league. Needless to say, I was heartbroken when he was traded to Dallas and even more so when I saw him don a Knicks jersey toward the end of his career. And then there was the head coaching stint, which, is a whole other can of worms in itself.
After 20+ years of Nets fandom, I’ve seen some pretty good players come and go. Even now with stars such as Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on the team. But the one player that will always be put above anyone else is that point guard out of California that wore #5.