On Wednesday night, before the Nets ended the Warriors’ 10-game win streak, Golden State coach Mark Jackson defended former Cal star Jason Kidd, in his debut season as Brooklyn’s coach.
Kidd had won just 10 of his first 31 games, prompting questions about his qualifications to jump directly from his playing career to a head coaching position.
But Brooklyn’s 102-98 win over the Warriors was the club’s fourth straight in a stretch that also included an upset of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
”I truly believe that Jason Kidd did not have to be an assistant coach to become a head coach,” said Jackson, who worked as a television analyst after retiring before entering coaching. “Because I watched him run teams and I played against teams that he was orchestrating. I got a lot of respect for him.
“He played the point guard position at as high a level as you can possibly play it. He’s been a coach on every team that he’s played on. He won a championship being an offensive coordinator, with all due respect to Rick Carlisle. But I am sure Rick will tell you the same thing.”
Kidd’s reign seemed in some jeopardy a month ago when he demoted assistant Lawrence Frank. Jackson took Kidd’s side on that one, too.
“I have never seen any one of The Pips try to lead,” Jackson argued. “That’s Gladys’ role. Let Gladys be Gladys.”
Jackson said Kidd should get a big share of the credit for getting the Nets pointed in the right direction.
“Give Jason a lot of credit,” Jackson said before the Nets’ win. “When you have adversity is when true leadership shows up. They’ve responded (to him). There’s a long time left to go in this season.”
Fifteen former Cal players are headed to the NFL playoffs.
Tony Gonzalez is headed to retirement . . . and Canton.
The Hall of Fame-bound tight end closed out his unparalled career Sunday with four final receptions for 56 yards. The one-time two-sport Cal star wound up his NFL days with staggering numbers:
Career receptions: 1,325 — most-ever by a tight end, No. 2 among all receivers.
Career receiving yards: 15,127 — most-ever by a TE, No. 5 overall.
Career TD receptions: 111 — most-ever by a TE, No. 6 overall.
Meanwhile, former Cal All-America linebacker Ron Rivera will lead his Carolina Panthers into the playoffs as the NFC’s No. 2 seed. Rivera coached the Panthers to a 12-4 record and a first-weekend bye.
Running back Marshawn Lynch helped the Seattle Seahawks to an NFL-best 13-3 record. The seventh-year pro rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s 27-9 win over St. Louis, finishing the season with 1,257 yards and 12 TDs. It was Lynch’s fifth 1,000-yard season in seven years and third in a row.
For his career, Lynch now has 7,389 rushing yards to rank seventh among active NFL players. He has scored 58 rushing touchdowns.
Keenan Allen finished a debut season that could land him Rookie of the Year honors. The 21-year-old wideout caught five passes for 89 yards in San Diego’s 27-24 win over Kansas City, the Chargers’ fifth win in their final six games, earning them a playoff date at Cincinnati next Sunday.
Tony Gonzalez, whose bobblehead was given out at a pair of Cal basketball games this week nearly 17 years after he left for the NFL, had another productive Sunday.
Gonzalez, 37, caught six passes for 62 yards for the Atlanta Falcons, including his 110th career touchdown, an ongoing NFL record for tight ends.
In the process, the former Cal two-sport star also went over the 15,000-yard receiving mark. He now has caught 1,313 passes for 15,008 yards.
(In case you’re wondering, that more than 8 1/2 miles).
He is just the fifth NFL player to surpass 15,000 yards, joining Jerry Rice, Terrell Owens, Randy Moss and Isaac Bruce.
Gonzalez’s receptions total is No. 2 in league history and his TD receptions rank sixth.
Ex-Cal star DeSean Jackson had a monster day with 1o receptions for 195 yards and a touchdown, but the Eagles lost 48-30 at Minnesota. Jackson’s updated season stats are impressive: 75 catches for 1,275 yards and nine touchdowns.
Marshawn Lynch had 47 yards rushing and a touchdown and caught six passes for 73 yards in the Seahawks’ 23-0 road victory over the NY Giants.
Pretty good Sunday for former Cal football stars:
— Keenan Allen: The San Diego wideout caught three passes for 59 yards, including touchdowns of 43 and 4 yards, in a 37-14 rout of the New York Giants. Allen, after a slow start, has 61 receptions for 902 yards and five TDs.
– Tony Gonzalez: The Falcons tight end caught his 109th career touchdown in a 22-21 loss at Green Bay. Gonzalez caught three passes for 25 yards, including a 2-yard TD. He is 54 receiving yards shy of 15,000 for his career.
– DeSean Jackson: Among his four catches for 59 yards, Jackson caught a 19-yard TD in the Eagles’ 34-20 win over Detroit in a snowstorm.
– Marvin Jones: The Bengals’ wideout caught three passes for 60 yards, including a 29-yard TD, in a 42-28 win over the Colts.
– Marshawn Lynch: The Oakland-raised running back topped the 1,000-yard barrier for the third straight season and the fifth time in his career in the Seahawks’ 19-17 loss to the 49ers. Lynch rushed 20 times for 72 yards, including an 11-yard TD run, and has 1,032 yards and 10 TDs for the season.
– Jeremy Ross: Oops . . . didn’t mean to ignore Ross, who merely returned a punt 58 yards for a touchdown and a kickoff 98 yards for another TD in the Lions’ loss at Philly. In 18 degrees, he returns six punts/kickoffs for 244 yards –more than Detroit’s total offense on the snowy day.
– Shane Vereen: No touchdowns, but the former Cal running back caught 12 passes for 153 yards in the Patriots’ remarkable come-from-behind 27-26 win over Cleveland.
Former Cal wide receiver Marvin Jones had the game of his life Sunday, catching a team-record four touchdown passes in the Cincinnati Bengals’ 49-9 win over the New York Jets.
Jones, who played at Cal from 2008-11, caught eight passes for 122 yards Sunday. His touchdowns came on plays of 9, 6, 17 and 6 yards.
He is the first NFL player to catch four touchdowns in a game since Randy Moss and Terrell Owens each did it in 2007.
Jones had totaled four TD receptions in 18 previous games over his two NFL seasons.
A fifth-round draft pick by the Bengals in 2012, Jones is on the rosters of fewer than 1 percent of all of ESPN’s fantasy teams, according to SportsCenter.
Suddenly, Keenan Allen is a favorite target of San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.
The rookie from Cal caught nine passes for 107 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown catch, as the Chargers beat the Indiananapolis Colts 19-9 on MNF.
Over the past three weeks, Allen has caught 20 passes for 302 yards and two TDs.
Jorge Gutierrez, the 2012 Pac-12 Player of the Year as a senior at Cal, helped Mexico to a 91-89 win over Puerto Rico in the championship game of the FIBA Americas Championships in Caracas, Venezuela.
Gutierrez, 24, had 11 points and four assists in the championship game, and averaged 9.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists for the 10-game tournament.
He contributed eight points, six rebounds and three assists to Mexico’s 76-70 semifinal win over Argentina. Earlier, he scored 16 points in a win over the Dominican Republic and 17 in a victory vs. host country Venezuela.
Mexico qualifies to participate in the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain.
Allan Bridgford, who left Cal last spring after being told he wouldn’t factor into the quarterback battle, is starting for Southern Miss.
Bridgford has thrown for 599 yards through two games, with two touchdown passes and five interceptions.
He had 377 yards a week ago against Texas State, then 222 Saturday at Nebraska. The Golden Eagles, however, lost both games.
Former Cal great Joe Kapp was the most recent quarterback to throw seven touchdowns in an NFL game before Peyton Manning did it Thursday night.
“Peyton’s an honorable man and it’s very much an honor to be mentioned by a quarterback right there with the best ever,” Kapp told USA Today. “Peyton comes from the premier football family in America.
“Archie was a pretty damned good quarterback. And he has two great sons playing the position.”
Kapp threw seven TD passes against the Baltimore Colts in 1969, the year he led the Minnesota Vikings to the Super Bowl.
“When I threw seven touchdowns against the Baltimore Colts, if you look at the film, I looked almost as good as Johnny Unitas,” said Kapp, 75, who helped Cal to its most recent Rose Bowl appearance after the 1958 season.
“In fact, after that game, I asked Johnny for his autograph.”
Here’s the USA Today’s complete story.
Former Cal quarterback Steve Bartkowski was inducted Wednesday night into the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, where he starred with the NFL’s Falcons.
“None of us played the game of college football thinking that we would be in the College Football Hall of Fame,” Bartkowski said. “It’s the icing on the cake. None of us could have done it on our own, so to our teammates, we say thanks… It’s an incredible honor and we are humbled by it.”
One of the great pure passers in Cal history, Bartkowski led the nation with 2,580 yards as a senior in 1974, when he was team MVP and a consensus All-America selection.
In 1975, he was the first and only Cal player selected No. 1 overall in the NFL draft, taken by the Falcons.