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.”

Lakers fan Tiger Woods reacts to news of reported Anthony Davis trade


Lakers fan Tiger Woods reacts to news of reported Anthony Davis trade

PEBBLE BEACH, Ca. -- The Los Angeles Lakers have missed the playoffs in each of the last six seasons, but things look to be turning around. 

News broke Saturday that the Lakers and Pelicans reportedly have agreed to a deal that will send Anthony Davis to the Lakers in exchange for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three-first round picks. 

Pairing Davis with LeBron James gives the Lakers a 1-2 punch that is unrivaled, especially with the Warriors licking their wounds following a devastating NBA Finals loss to the Toronto Raptors that saw both Kevin Durant (ruptured Achilles) and Klay Thompson (torn ACL) go down with injuries.

Diehard Lakers fan Tiger Woods had an obvious reaction to the trade when informed of the move after his third round of the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach on Saturday. 

While the Lakers look to be headed in the right direction, the same can't be said for Woods at Pebble Beach. 

Needing to post a low number to get back into contention Saturday, Woods bogeyed two of his first three holes before battling back to shoot even par. He enters Sunday's final round at even par for the championship, 11 shots back of leader Gary Woodland. 

[RELATED: Lakers need more than AD to win West]

Woods won't be a factor Sunday at Pebble Beach, but it looks like the Lakers will be a factor in the Western Conference for the next couple seasons. 

NBA rumors: Chris Paul wants out of Houston, Stephen A. Smith hears


NBA rumors: Chris Paul wants out of Houston, Stephen A. Smith hears

Houston, you have a problem.

The James Harden-Chris Paul arrangement on the Rockets could be ending soon.

And it comes at a bad time for the Rockets, who now could have a chance for the 2020 NBA championship with the Warriors licking their wounds from a brutal Finals loss.

ESPN's Stephen A. Smith dropped this bit of news on his radio show Friday while talking to NBA insider Brian Windhorst.

"In the end, it's this: With Kevin Durant out, with Klay Thompson out for most of the season, one could argue the Houston Rockets now have a window to get to the NBA Finals," Smith said. "But you're also hearing Chris Paul wants out, Chris Paul wouldn't mind going somewhere else, preferrably LA, maybe, we don't know, with LeBron. We don't know. But you're hearing he wants out."

Smith dropped the "Los Angeles" nugget before the Lakers agreed to acquire All-Star big man Anthony Davis in a trade with the Pelicans on Saturday.

The Lakers will have between $27 million and $32 million left in salary-cap space, so they could try to acquire Paul to fill their point guard hole. But the New York Times reported that the Lakers have their eyes on free agent Kemba Walker, a much younger option.

Paul's remaining contract could be an issue, though. He's owed $38.5 million in 2019-20, just over $41 million in 2020-21 and just over $44 million in 2021-22.

"I would never say that CP3's untradeable," Windhorst said. "He's tradeable, for sure. But he's not tradeable in a way that makes their team better."

If the Rockets break up their two-headed monster, you can give the Warriors a large hand in causing its demise. Golden State has ended Houston's season each of the last two years. The Rockets believed they were better than the Warriors, but each season, they were proven wrong.

[RELATED: Lakers start arms race to dethrone Warriors]

Under the Warriors' watch, the Los Angeles Clippers, led by Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, broke up. The LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers broke up after four consecutive NBA Finals matchups. Soon, the Rockets could be the next team to come crashing down because they were unable to get past Golden State.