How good was Jason Kidd?
At 38, and averaging less than eight points a game, he was the starting point guard who led the Dallas Mavericks to their first NBA championship in 2011.
Kidd completed the first year of a three-year deal with the New York Knicks on a down note as they were eliminated from the playoffs in six games by the Indiana Pacers. He failed to score in the last 10 playoff games he played.
So Kidd, 40, retired after 19 seasons on Monday.
His announcement comes two days after Grant Hill, who was co-Rookie of the Year with Kidd in 1995, also retired.
Kidd will forever be linked with Dallas, where he played in two stints for seven seasons. He also played for the Phoenix Suns and then-New Jersey Nets, who he led to two NBA Finals appearances.
“The driving force of our championship run,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle told CSN Washington via text message, “and one of the all-time great winners.”
The Mavs upset the Miami Heat in six games of the 2011 Finals, in LeBron James’ first year with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Dirk Nowitzki deservedly was named the MVP, but it was Kidd who steered the engine on both ends of the floor.
After his team dropped Game 1, Carlisle relied on Kidd to run the offense and defense in flow -– without play-calling.
The adjustment confused the Heat, who couldn't key in on sets or figure out when the Mavs were shifting to the matchup 2-3 zone that kept James and Wade out of the paint.
If looking at Kidd simply by his career numbers (12.6 points, 8.7 assists, 40% shooting), he appears average. It's his intangibles, however, that separated him from the pack.
Kidd’s defense, which he refined in the Bay Area as a high school player facing the likes of NBA All-Star Gary Payton, was exceptional for most of his career. It was Payton, nicknamed "The Glove" for his defensive prowess, who taught him the value of being a two-way player, including when the Mavs beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in the conference finals en route to their championship.
In crunch time, Kidd guarded 6-9 Kevin Durant, giving up five inches and countless length in wingspan, and gave him fits. Kidd couldn't contest the scoring champion’s shot once he got in the air, so the veteran guard threw off Durant's timing by making him pick the ball up one dribble sooner than he was accustomed and destroying his rhythm. The result was a five-game series win for Dallas.
In all, Kidd was a nine-time All-Star. A limited shooter to start his career, by his fourth season he transformed into a long-range threat.
Kidd’s 1,988 three-pointers made are the third most in NBA history, behind Ray Allen and Reggie Miller.
Carlisle once referred to Kidd as being "savant-like" with how he engineers a team from the point. In five years, he'll also be able to call him a Hall of Famer.
How good was Jason Kidd?