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.”

Why Bob Myers questioned decision to trade Alec Burks, Glenn Robinson

Why Bob Myers questioned decision to trade Alec Burks, Glenn Robinson

Steve Kerr was hired as head coach of the Warriors in May 2014.

Since then, you have heard countless references to the incredible "culture" within the Golden State organization.

And despite the fact the Dubs have the worst record in the NBA right now, that culture remains strong. The foundation is rock solid.

Oh, you want an example? Glad you asked.

President of basketball operations/general manager Bob Myers provided the following anecdote during a podcast appearance on "The TK Show" with Tim Kawakami of The Athletic:

"The night we traded (Alec) Burks and (Glenn) Robinson -- that was a little bit of a gut-wrenching thing for the people on the team. Those guys were good players and good guys and did everything we asked of them.

"And I had a moment, too. I started questioning. We're really kind of ripping our fabric apart here. And (assistant general manager) Mike Dunleavy -- who played 15 years -- said, 'Here's the other side of that coin: The fact that guys are in tears -- and we've only won 10 games or 12 games and don't want to leave -- says something about what you guys have created.'

"So I'm proud of that part ... it sucks to lose. But what makes it good or bad are the people."

Strong stuff.

Neither Burks or Robinson III wanted to be traded. Even when they found out they were going to a contender in the Philadelphia 76ers, they still were upset.

"To play those consistent minutes a night and perform well ... that’s the most disappointing part about coming here is that -- both of us are coming off career years where we’re looking at hopefully big numbers after the season," Robinson recently told Spencer Davies of Basketball Insiders. "I know I’ve got a family to feed. So you think about all those things.

"All those things play a role, and then when you come here and your role’s not really explained or you don’t know what’s going on with the trade -- it’s not like it was a trade where you come in and immediately have an impact. It’s a little different, so ...

"This team is full of wings, full of guys who can play. So really, I don’t really understand it. But it’s a business, you’ve got to make it happen and go out and try to do your best every night.”

[RELATED: Dubs GM Myers recalls 2011 NBA Draft dinner with 'shy' Klay]

It is a business, and Myers and the front office had an opportunity to acquire three second-round draft picks, so they jumped on it.

But the human element is very real, which caused Myers to second-guess the trade.

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New Warriors guard Mychal Mulder eager to help after G League stints

New Warriors guard Mychal Mulder eager to help after G League stints

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Warriors' newest guard, Mychal Mulder, signed his 10-day contract just after shootaround on Thursday afternoon. By the end of the deal, the former Sioux Falls Skyforce guard hopes to play his way into a longer role with Golden State. 

Mulder got the call from a Warriors staffer Tuesday evening, asking if the guard was interested following a 100-99 victory over the Austin Spurs. Unsure of the number, he declined the call. When the number called again, he eagerly accepted the early morning flight to the Bay Area. 

"We want to offer you a 10-day," Mulder recalled the official saying. "I know it's late at night, but would you be willing to get on a flight over here at 6:00 a.m.?

"And I was like, 'Sir, I'll get on a flight anytime you want me to. I'll go right now if you want.' "

His arrival is needed. A competent 3-point shooter, he made 39 percent of his shots from beyond the arc in 33 appearances. As Mulder's makes accumulated, the Warriors have made just 33 percent of their 3-pointers on the season, the third-worst mark in the NBA. 

Mulders' career has been defined by movement. After light recruitment out of high school, he attended Vincennes University, averaging 15.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per game as a sophomore, earning a scholarship to Kentucky. Following a two-year stint with the Wildcats, he went undrafted, and then had stints with the Skyforce where he earned a training camp invite with the Miami Heat in September.

On Thursday, he credited the G League with his development. 

"I got a ton of love, a ton of respect for the G," he said. "Me being a Juco guy too, I'm kind of a guy that understands the long road, the path less traveled. And the growth of the G League over the last five, 10 years or so, even the last three that I've been in it, it's been amazing to see." 

With the Skyforce, former Warriors guard Jarrett Jack was Mulder's teammate, giving the 25-year-old journeymen sage advice on his way out of the G League. 

[RELATED: Why Myers questioned Warriors' decision to deal Burks, GR3]

"He was the first one to call me talking about, 'I'm going to call those guys down there and make sure they take care of you. And anything you need, give me a call. I'll have it for you in 30 minutes. I'm going to take care of you.'

"It's great to have a vet like that around," Mulder added. "And you can really see it, how he interacts with the guys and the rookie guys, he makes us so much better and helps us learn and get over that learning curve so much faster."

Now, In his first 10 days in Golden State, Mulder is expected to join the team in upcoming matchups against the Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Washington Wizards, Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers. Nonetheless, Mulder feels confident he can provide value to a battered roster. 

"Whatever role these guys want me in, I'm absolutely happy to do it," he said. "Whether it's shoot the ball, whether it's make plays for others, whether it's wave a towel. I'm out here to do whatever I can do for the team and help the team win to the best of my abilities, and that's all my job is."