Bay Area legend Jason Kidd was born to be a Hall of Famer


Bay Area legend Jason Kidd was born to be a Hall of Famer

He was that once-in-a-generation phenomenon, his road to the Basketball Hall of Fame paved and lit before he entered high school. His challenge was make sure to rise each time he was knocked down or tripped on his own.

That’s a tough assignment for those that hone their gifts on playgrounds and gyms in cities and towns that don’t always forgive, places where dreams can die through dumb luck or wicked temptations found irresistible.

Jason Kidd was knocked down a time or two. He tripped on his own far more often.

The boy from Oakland who became a man of the world got up every time.

Kidd fixed his shooting, the one area open to valid criticism. He overcame conflict with teammates and coaches. He navigated through a guilty plea for spousal abuse, resulting in anger management counseling and the end of his first marriage. He survived crashing his car into a utility pole, an incident for which he pleaded guilty of driving while intoxicated.

Now that he is hours away from the pinnacle of a basketball career that began during his teenage years, you have to wonder why Kidd continues to pinch himself and ask if this is real?

“I still can’t believe this is happening,” Kidd says.

Kidd is entering the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame this weekend because such fate could not be derailed. He overcame the worst of himself by maintaining the best of his spirit.

Well, that and his extraordinary talent for thinking, feeling and playing basketball.

Kidd became a national star while attending St. Joseph High School in Alameda, where he led the Pilots to back-to-back state championships and was profiled in Sports Illustrated. The school actually sold Jason Kidd T-shirts.

His legend already formed, Kidd then went to Cal, which responded to his presence by relocating select games from 6,500-seat Harmon Gym to the Oakland Coliseum Arena (now Oracle Arena), which had a capacity of 15,025. Kidd’s most notable achievement at Cal was leading the Golden Bears to an 82-77 win over Duke in the second round of the 1993 NCAA Tournament -- the school’s biggest victory since its 1959 national championship.

Declaring for the NBA Draft after two seasons at Cal, Kidd was selected second overall by Dallas in 1994. Standing 6-foot-4, weighing 210 points yet possessing the speed and agility of a smaller, lighter man, Kidd was an immediate attraction. His dazzling array of creative and theatrical passes -- everything from no-look skip passes to court-length lobs -- provided a degree of flair comparable to that of a seminal superstar that won championships with the Los Angeles Lakers.

“He was probably the closest thing that we had to Magic Johnson during our era,” Warriors point guard Shaun Livingston says. “Growing up, I really watched J-Kidd on the break because that was my gift, being able to see things and have a vision before they actually happened.”

As a 6-6 point guard at Peoria (Ill.) Central High School, Ill., Livingston was, like Kidd, a prep superstar with a game that scouts compared to Johnson. He entered the NBA 10 years after Kidd, though.

“By the time I got into the league, his jumper was coming around and he was shooting 3s with confidence,” Livingston recalls. “But he still had that crossover. That was pretty hard to deal with, him coming at you full speed without switching gears.”

Kidd leading the break -- anywhere on the break -- was a sight to behold. That element, more than anything, is what Warriors coach Steve Kerr remembers.

“The first impression was just how big and fast he was, and how under control he was,” recalls Kerr, who over his final nine seasons occasionally had to cope with the bullish youngster. “It was a great package, a great combination. It didn’t do him justice to see it on TV because he was so under control that you didn’t really get a sense for how fast and powerful he was.

“But when Jason was coming downhill at you in transition, it was kind of awe-inspiring. He could go around you, either direction, go through you, or go over you. There was nothing you could do.”

Kidd’s all-around game lent itself to triple-doubles -- he retired in 2013 with 107, ranking behind only Oscar Robertson (181) and Johnson (138) on the all-time list. He almost single-handedly pulled the modestly talented New Jersey Nets to back-to-back appearances in the NBA Finals (2002 and 2003), both times falling to the Lakers led by Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.

Though he retired from Team USA after the 2008 Olympics with a 56-0 record in International competition, it was not until 2011, at age 38, did Kidd finally win an NBA title, nabbing it in his second tour with the Mavericks.

“I was wondering if it was ever going to come, and I’m just glad it did,” Kidd says.

He also wondered, always hoping, if the Hall would call. He never knew, because, well . . . the tripping and falling. He now knows.

“He always told me that if it weren’t for me and guys like Brian Shaw, guys like that in Oakland, that he wouldn’t be where he is,” says Gary Payton, who was an early mentor and will present Kidd during the ceremony in Springfield. “J listened, he learned, he took it to heart and became a great basketball player. He’s a Hall of Famer. No doubt.”

Warriors must strike delicate balance between confidence and arrogance

Warriors must strike delicate balance between confidence and arrogance

SAN ANTONIO -- Even while reeling as never before in games of significance, the Warriors continue to exhibit a self-assurance that borders on arrogance.

Draymond Green says they’ll “be fine.”

Kevin Durant says the mood in the locker room is “good.”

Stephen Curry says he’s proud of his teammates for their unified handling of the agitation created by the infamous upheaval between Durant and Green on Monday.

Even after their 112-109 loss to the Mavericks on Saturday night in Dallas, there was Klay Thompson saying, “we feel great.”

It’s almost as if they’re embracing a concept that most teams -- especially contenders -- abhor. The “moral victory.”

Given the breathtaking recent history, perhaps the Warriors have earned the privilege of arrogance. They’ve accomplished things no other team has. They’re in the midst of trying to win a third consecutive championship, something just three NBA teams have achieved.

But such unwavering swagger in the face of reality feels a little like denial. And denial is not a healthy way to approach much of anything in life, particularly when there are so many witnesses.

The Warriors, honestly, are staggering. They’ve lost three of four, the lone victory coming against the wretched Atlanta Hawks, who stayed close to the champs longer than would be acceptable under normal circumstances.

The Mavericks, a team undergoing transition, were too much for the Warriors in the fourth quarter.

“We’ve just got to keep getting better,” Durant told reporters afterward. “We had great looks in the fourth, especially myself. I missed about five or six good looks.

“I wish I could have knocked down those shots for the team. But I’m glad we’ve got a game tomorrow.”

Asked what it would take for them to get out of this skid, Thompson kept it plain and simple.

“Win tomorrow,” he said. “It’s pretty simple.”

A win Sunday against the Spurs would be a meaningful step for the Warriors toward restoring their routine and sanity. What they’ve gone through this week is both unusual and disturbing, whether they care to admit or not. It is evident in listening to Durant that he still is annoyed by not only the content of the argument but also the constant references to it.

Asked about the vibe around the team, Durant offered words sprinkled with salt.

“We’re just trying to move forward,” he said. “Are we going to talk about this the whole year? We just want to play ball. I know that’s all I want to do.”

Who knew that a single victory over a San Antonio team with its own problems could mean so much? And, really, it would matter.

But not nearly as much as the return of Curry and Green, along with the good-time vibe that makes the Warriors the Warriors.

When the Warriors are “fine” or “good” or “great,” they chase more than victory. They pursue excellence -- the ability to dominate with such panache -- that they can all laugh together about it.

Only then will the arrogance seem fitting.

Warriors takeaways: What we learned from narrow loss to Mavericks

Warriors takeaways: What we learned from narrow loss to Mavericks


The Warriors in recent seasons have dominated the Dallas Mavericks, taking a 10-game win streak into American Airlines Center on Saturday.

That streak is gone, replaced by another the Warriors didn’t want.  

With the Mavericks coming back in the fourth quarter to pull out a 112-109 victory -- their first over the Warriors since Dec. 30, 2015 -- the defending NBA champs have a two-game losing streak for the first time since last April.

Here are three takeaways from the game:  

The stars faded late

With Stephen Curry and Draymond Green out, the Warriors looked to Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson to take them home in the fourth quarter. Neither was able.

Durant scored a game-high 32 points but just three in the fourth. He shot 1 of 7 in the quarter, after going 10 of 17 in the first three. He played the final 6:12 and was minus-7 during his stint. After dropping in a jumper to give the Warriors a 106-103 lead with 3:13 to play, Durant missed his final four field-goal attempts.

Thompson fared only slightly better, scoring seven of his 22 points in the fourth on 3-of-8 shooting. He worked free for a good look on a potential tying shot with 10.6 seconds left, but he missed the 16-footer.

Durant and Thompson combined to shoot 20 of 48 (41.7 percent) from the field, including 2 of 15 (13.3 percent) from deep. They were 7 of 25 and 1 of 8 after halftime. Those are tough numbers for the Warriors to overcome.  

The bench carried a lot of weight

The reserves probably realized it would be up to them to fill the gaps created by the absences of Alfonzo McKinnie, Curry and Green. They performed nicely.

The Warriors’ bench outscored that of Dallas 42-25; the Mavericks reserves had outscored those of their opponents 163-69 in their previous three games. The Warriors' crew shot 57.1 percent (16 of 28) from the field and 60 percent (6 of 10) beyond the arc.

Guard Damion Lee, called up from G-League Santa Cruz and arriving in Dallas less than 24 hours before tipoff, scored 13 points in 18 minutes. Quinn Cook, again playing behind Andre Iguodala, put in 15 points in 22 minutes, and Shaun Livingston added 12, the first time this season he has reached double figures.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr made a lineup change at center, with Kevon Looney -- who has been the most proficient of the young big men -- replacing Damian Jones, who started the first 16 games. Jones played one of his better games, scoring just two points but adding seven rebounds and four blocks over 22 minutes.

If the reserves continue to perform at anywhere near this level, they might be able to carry the Warriors to a victory.  

The team was ready to play

Kerr expressed confidence that the Warriors would recover from their blowout loss Thursday night Houston. His projection was accurate.

They reduced their turnover count from 17 in Houston to an acceptable 12. They outrebounded the bigger Mavericks (47-46) and had more assists (24-18). Five Warriors scored in double figures.

Durant and Thompson started well, shooting 13 of 23 in the first half, as the Warriors built an eight-point lead in less than seven minutes.

The Warriors were solid for a full three quarters and early in the fourth, when they pushed the lead back to eight (90-82) before being outscored 30-19 over the final 11 minutes.

The defending champs simply weren’t the better team when it mattered most.