Click here for my latest story on Kidd’s retirement, plus a photo slide show of his career.
Here is columnist Monte Poole’s take on the timing of Kidd’s farewell.
The greatest player to wear a Cal basketball jersey, Jason Kidd announced Monday he is retiring from the NBA after a 19-year career in which he was a 10-time all-star and one of the greastest point guards in league history.
Kidd, 40, played 19 NBA seasons, finishing No. 2 in league history in assists (12,091) and steals (2,684), and No. 3 in 3-point field goals (1,988) and minutes played (50,0111). He is the all-time leading rebounder among NBA guards (8,725) and compiled 107 career triple-doubles — behind only Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson.
Kidd said he made the decision over the weekend, simply deciding the time was right.
Asked by ESPN.com to identify the highlights of his career, Kidd said, “The two things that are probably tied for first are winning a championship with the Mavericks and also being able to win a gold medal — two gold medals with Team USA,” Kidd said of what he’s most proud of in his career. “And then underneath that will probably be sharing Rookie of the Year with Grant (Hill).”
Hill, coincidentally, announced his retirement on Saturday.
A graduate of St. Joseph’s HS in Alameda, where was such a popular phenom that the Pilots played some of their games at Cal State Hayward or the Coliseum Arena, Kidd helped elevate Cal to heights it hadn’t enjoyed since Pete Newell coached the team four decades earlier.
As a freshman, Kidd powered the Bears to spectacular NCAA tourmanent wins over LSU and two-time defending champ Duke, earning a cover on Sports Illustrated. After his sophomore season, he declared for the NBA draft and was taken No. 2 overall by the Dallas Mavericks.
At Cal, Kidd averaged 14.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 8.4 assists.
In the NBA, those numbers were 12.6, 6.3 and 8.7.
For the few Old Blues who questioned whether a player who spent only two seasons on campus should have had his Cal jersey retired, my response always has been this: The primary purpose of college is to prepare one for life in the workplace, and Kidd moved to the top of his profession quickly.
His career earnings exceeded $187 million.
Former NBA player and ESPN analyst Jon Barry, who played high school ball at De La Salle against Kidd, said, “You just knew it then how special a player he was going to be. As a ninth-grader, he was chiseled, he was a man among boys already.
“He was one of the fastest players you ever saw. He was the ultimate teammate, a top-five point guard in the history of this league, without question. A tremendous competitor, a tremendous winner.”
Barry added that Kidd played an old-school, pass-first game that is rarely seen today.
“He made everybody better and he thought three, four plays ahead,” Barry said. “He had the greatest basketball mind I ever played against.”
Marc Stein, an NBA analyst for ESPN, said Kidd’s reputation as a great teammate may have stood above all his other attributes.
“In 20 years of covering the league, I don’t know that I know anybody who had the respect of every big-name guy he played with,” Stein said, also including former Olympic teammates sucg as Kobe Bryant. “These guys all responded to Kidd.”
Perhaps that explains why at every stop in his NBA career, Kidd helped elevate his team. The Phoenix Suns improved 16 games in his first full season of 1997-98, and beginning in 2001-02 he transformed the New Jersey Nets from a perennial loser to a two-time NBA finalist.
Kidd won his only NBA title in 2011 with the Dallas Mavericks, where he began his career.
He had two years left on his contract with the New York Knicks, but clearly it was time to step away. Kidd had lost much of the quickness and elite athletic ability he once boasted, and he failed to make a basket in any of his final 10 playoff games this season.
Going forward, Kidd said he will consider doing TV work or coaching.
Wonder if Mike Montgomery could find a place on his staff for a guy who could work with point guards and be a special asset in recruiting?