Jason Kidd had a Hall of Fame playing career which continues to flourish into coaching, as he helped guide the Dallas Mavericks to a Western Conference Finals appearance.
Starting off Young
Kidd’s basketball playing days started young as he played in basketball tournaments and was scouted by AAU teams. He won a couple of all-star and MVP awards as a child. He attended the East Oakland Youth Development Center where he worked on developing his craft. While there, Coach Al Payton introduced him to his son and future Hall of Famer, Gary Payton. To improve his skills, Kidd played against Gary and some of the older children.
Kidd attended St. Joseph Notre Dame High School and achieved many accolades while there. He led the basketball team to consecutive state championships. Among California high school basketball, Kidd ranks first in career steals and third in career assists. In both his junior and senior years, he was named a first-team Parade All-American and was recognized as California Mr. Basketball. He also won the Naismith Prep Player of the Year Award and was a McDonald’s All-American.
Kidd shocked many by choosing to attend the University of California, Berkeley, a school that was coming off a 10-18 season and had not won a conference championship since 1960. UCLA, Arizona, Kentucky, Kansas, and Ohio State were some of the notable universities interested in him.
In his first season at UC Berkeley, Kidd averaged 13.0 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 7.7 APG, and 3.8 SPG. He helped lead the Golden Bears to the NCAA tournament as the No. 6 team in the Midwest Region. They reached the Sweet 16 round before losing to the No. 2 seed, Kansas. In his first year with the team, Kidd set school records and NCAA records. His 110 steals set an NCAA record for most steals by a freshman, he set the school record for most steals in a season. Kidd also had 220 assists for the season, which set a school record. He was also the NCAA steals leader in his freshman year.
Kidd won the USBWA National Freshman of the Year award and the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year award. To top it all off he was named onto the All-Pac-10 first-team.
His sophomore season brought him even more accolades. In his sophomore year, Kidd averaged 16.7 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 9.1 APG, and 3.1 SPG. He again helped lead the Golden Bears to the NCAA tournament, this time as the No. 5 seed in the West Region. In the first round, they were upset by the 12th seed, Green Bay. He broke his own school record and led the whole country in assists for the season with 272. He was named a consensus first-team All-American and Pac-10 Player of the Year, the first sophomore to win the award. His time with the Golden Bears came to an end when he opted to enter the 1994 NBA Draft.
Welcome to the NBA
Kidd was selected 2nd overall by the Dallas Mavericks in the 1994 NBA Draft. He started his career off strong as he averaged 11.9 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 7.7 APG, and 1.9 SPG. After joining the Mavericks, he immediately became a key part of the team as he played and started in 79 games. Kidd’s addition also led to the formation of the “Three J’s”. The trio consisted of Kidd, Jim Jackson, and Jamal Mashburn.
During Kidd’s first season, the Mavericks improved from a 13-69 record without him to 36-46 with him, the biggest improvement for any team that year. As a result of his successful first season, he was named Co-Rookie of the Year with Grant Hill of the Detroit Pistons; Kidd was also named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team.
Kidd took a big jump his second year in the league. He averaged 16.6 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 9.7 APG, and 2.2 SPG while starting in all 81 games he played. His improvements on the court didn’t go unnoticed as he was selected to participate in the All-Star Game.
Kidd’s time in Dallas came to an end during his third season when he got traded to the Phoenix Suns halfway through the season. In his 22 starts that season with the Mavericks, he averaged 9.9 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 9.1 APG, and 2.0 SPG.
Kidd’s Best Years
Kidd spent four and a half seasons with the Suns. During that time, he was their starting point guard in all but 11 of their regular-season games and started in all five of their playoff appearances. He led the league in triple-doubles in his four full seasons there. During the 1998-99 and 2000-01 seasons, he led the league in assists with 539 and 753 respectively. In 1999, 2000, and 2001, he led the league in assists per game with 10.8 APG, 10.1 APG, and 9.8 APG, respectively, earning him three assists titles.
Kidd led the league in games played during the 1997-98 and 1998-99 seasons, playing every game in both years. He also led the league in minutes played during the 1998-99 season. Kidd made three All-Star appearances while in Phoenix. Additionally, he made three All-NBA First Teams from 1999 to 2001, two NBA All-Defensive First Teams in 1999 and 2001, and an NBA All-Defensive Second Team in 2000.
During the 2001 offseason, Kidd was traded from Phoenix to the New Jersey Nets. He spent six and a half seasons with the Nets, starting in all but two games with them. Kidd led them to six straight playoff appearances and two NBA Finals appearances in 2002 and 2003 but failed to win the championship. He led the league in triple-doubles in five of his seasons on the team. He was the assists leader once again during the 2002-03 season with 711.
During the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons he led the league in assists per game with 8.9 APG and 9.2 APG, respectively, which earned him two more assists titles. In his first year with the Nets, he led the league in steals with 179. While on the Nets, Kidd was an All-Star five times. He made two All-NBA First Teams in 2002 and 2004, one All-NBA Second Team in 2003, two NBA All-Defensive First Teams in 2002 and 2006, and four NBA All-Defensive Second Teams in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2007. Kidd finished second in MVP voting his first year on the Nets after turning the team from a 26-56 win team to a 52-30 win team, which marked the first 50-win season in the franchise’s history.
Welcome Back to Dallas
Three days after the 2008 NBA All-Star Game, Kidd was traded to the team that drafted him, the Mavericks. Kidd was brought back to the team as a veteran leader to help Mavericks superstar, Dirk Nowitzki, and the rest of Dallas’ team win an NBA title. In his first half a season back, Kidd averaged 9.9 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 9.5 APG, and 2.1 SPG while starting all 29 games he played with the team. The Mavericks finished as the seventh seed in the Western Conference with a 51-31 record. In the first round, the New Orleans Hornets defeated the Mavericks in five games.
The following season Kidd played and started in 81 games. He averaged 9.0 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 8.7 APG, and 2.0 SPG. Kidd finished the season third in steals per game. The Mavericks finished the season as the sixth seed in the Western conference with a 50-32 record. The Mavericks reached the Western Conference Semifinals before getting eliminated in five games by the Denver Nuggets.
During the 2009 offseason, Kidd re-signed with the Mavericks for three more years. He averaged 10.3 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 9.1 APG, and 1.8 SPG while starting 80 games he played in during the season. That same season, Kidd became an All-Star for the tenth and final time in his career. Dallas finished the season with a 55-27 record, good enough for second place in the Western Conference. But in the first round of the playoffs, they lost to their rival, the San Antonio Spurs, in six games.
The 2010-11 season would be magical for the Mavericks. Kidd’s stats began to decline as he averaged 7.9 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 8.2 APG, and 1.7 SPG while playing and starting in 80 games. The Mavericks finished the season 57-25 and third in the Western Conference. In the first round, the Mavs defeated the Portland Trailblazers in six games. They then swept the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Semifinals. In the Western Conference Finals, they beat the young Oklahoma City Thunder core of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden in five games.
In the NBA Finals, Dallas capped off their dominant playoff run by defeating the Miami Heat’s newly formed big three that consisted of Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh in six games to win the NBA Championship. A 38-year-old Kidd made history when he became the oldest starting point guard to lead his team to the NBA Championship.
The 2011-12 season, was a shortened one due to the lockout, this would also be Kidd’s final season with the Mavs as a player. In Kidd’s final season with the Maveicks he averaged 6.2 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 5.5 APG, and 1.7 SPG while starting all 48 games he played in. Dallas made the playoffs with a 36-30 record and a seventh-place finish in the Western Conference. The Mavericks were swept by the Thunder in the first round of the playoffs.
Kidd’s Final Season
During the 2012 offseason Kidd signed with the New York Knicks. He was moved to the shooting guard position and started in 48 out the 76 games he played in during the regular season. Kidd averaged 6.0 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.3 APG, and 1.6 SPG in his final season. The Knicks finished the season 54-28 and were the second seed in the Eastern Conference. They lost in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in six games to the Indiana Pacers. Kidd didn’t score any field goal or points in the last 10 playoff games. On June 3, 2013 Kidd retired.
Kidd’s Career Retrospect
Kidd spent most of his career as part of the Mavericks. During his time with the Mavs, he averaged 10.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 8.4 APG, and 1.9 SPG while starting in all 500 games he was on the team. His time on the Mavericks is remembered by many fans especially the championship season. His first few years on the team were rocky due to disagreements between the members of “Triple J Ranch” piled on with consecutive losing seasons.
Ultimately, this spelled the end for Dallas’ young trio of stars.But when he made his return to the team later in his career, he was a reliable veteran leader that helped the Mavericks reach their ultimate goal, the NBA Championship.
A few days after he retired from playing, Kidd returned to one of his former teams, this time as a coach. Kidd was named the Brooklyn Nets’ head coach. His coaching career had a bumpy start when he was suspended for the first two games of the season due to a DWI charge from an incident that happened a year before. Later, he got fined $50,000 for telling one of his players to bump into him in order to spill his cup of soda on the court and delay the game so he could draw up a last-second play against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Going 10-21 entering New Year’s Day, the Nets started off the season poorly and there were rumors that Kidd might be let go. However, the Nets turned it around in the new year, going 34-17 the rest of the way and finishing 44-38 overall. They ended up making the playoffs as the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference. After beating the Toronto Raptors in seven games in the first round, they lost to the Miami Heat in five games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
As a coach, Kidd was traded to the Bucks on July 1, 2014, in exchange for a second-round pick in 2015 and a second-round pick in 2019. When Kidd reportedly was denied more control than Nets’ general manager Billy King, he interviewed with the Bucks and was sent to them. As the Bucks coach, he turned around a 15-win team and turned them into a 41-41 team. Bucks were the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference during his first year. Kidd became the first coach in NBA history to lead two franchises to the playoffs in his first two years as head coach. He also finished third in votes for Coach of the Year. In the first round of the playoffs, the Bucks lost in six to the Chicago Bulls.
The following season was not as successful for the Bucks as they went 33-49 and in turn, missed the playoffs entirely. The 2016-2017 season was a bounce-back season for Kidd and the Bucks as he led them to a 42-40 record and the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference again. They then got eliminated by the Toronto Raptors in six games in the first round of the playoffs. Kidd’s tenure as head coach of the Bucks would end halfway through the 2017-2018 season after the team started off 23-22.
On July 31, 2019, Kidd was announced as an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Lakers. The most successful season of his coaching career came in his first year as an assistant coach with the Lakers. As a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, the NBA season was shortened and the Lakers finished as the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference with a 52-19 record. The playoffs took place in the Orlando bubble.
The Lakers defeated the Portland Trail Blazers in five games in the first round of the 2020 playoffs. In the Western Conference Semifinals, they defeated the Houston Rockets in five games. Their next opponents were the Denver Nuggets, which they defeated in five games in the Western Conference Finals. In the NBA Finals, the Lakers beat the Miami Heat in six games to conclude their playoff run. Kidd became one out of a handful of former players to win a championship as a coach and as a player.
He would stay on board as a Lakers assistant coach for the 2020-2021 season. They went 42-30 in another shortened season and finished the season as the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference. The Phoenix Suns eliminated them in six games in the first round of the playoffs.
On June 28, 2021, Kidd made his second return to the Mavericks, this time as the head coach. His first season as the Mavericks’ coach resulted in them finishing 52-30 and earning the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference. This would be Dallas’ highest standings finish since their championship season in 2011, which Kidd was also part of as a player. Additionally, Kidd made the Mavericks’ defense one of the best in the league as they finished seventh in defensive rating, whereas they finished 21st the year before Kidd arrived as head coach.
The Mavericks beat the Utah Jazz in six games in the first round. In the Western Conference Semifinals, they beat the Suns in seven games who had the best record in the league. In the Western Conference Finals, the Dallas Mavericks lost to the Golden State Warriors in five games. Dallas entered the playoffs as an underdog, but Kidd led the Mavericks to their first two playoff series wins since their championship season.
UC Berkley retired Kidd’s No.5 jersey in 2001. The Nets retired his No. 5 jersey in 2013.
Kidd was the 1995 Co-Rookie of the Year, was named onto the 1995 All-Rookie First Team, five-time assists champion, made six All-NBA Teams, nine All-Defensive Teams, a ten-time All-Star, a 2011 NBA Champion with the Mavericks, and a 2020 NBA Champion as an assistant coach with the Lakers. In 2021, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. In 2022, Kidd was named onto the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team.
Kidd is still building on his legacy. He received an abundance of awards and honors throughout his career, including winning the big one, the NBA Championship, with the Mavericks. Kidd cemented himself as one of the top point guards in NBA history and was inducted into the Hall of Fame. His career in the NBA isn’t over yet as he continues to excel as a coach achieving new milestones on his journey.