Forged under the fiery tough-love tutelage of local point guard legend Gary Payton, Jason Kidd’s hall of fame basketball career began in Oakland under perhaps more scrutiny than any other prep star had ever seen up to that point. In the late eighties and early nineties, the local demand to see Kidd play forced little St. Joseph Notre Dame High School to often move its games to the Oakland Coliseum Arena to accommodate crowds that averaged 12,000. Before he even starred at Cal and led the Golden Bears to the NCAA Tournament and a stunning upset of defending national champion Duke in the second round as a freshman, Kidd had his jerseys and posters sold at high school games, was featured in Sports Illustrated and played pickup games with the likes of Chris Mullin, Mitch Richmond and Tim Hardaway. Kidd won two state championships and so many national player of the year accolades that he was being compared by some to another legendary local passer –- Joe Montana. “They were the biggest things in the Bay Area at the time,” Payton said. “… People don’t know, J was the first Lebron coming out of high school.” The second-overall pick in 1994 started his NBA career sharing Rookie of the Year honors with Grant Hill and finished a 19-year hall of fame career as one of the greatest point guards to ever play the game despite not being a prolific scorer. Kidd averaged 12.6 points, 8.7 assists, 6.3 rebounds and 1.9 steals for the Mavericks, Suns, Nets and Knicks. “I don’t think in the history of the game there has ever been a guy to dominate more games without scoring,” said Nets teammate Richard Jefferson, who appeared in two consecutive NBA finals with Kidd. Kidd’s rare combination of size and speed, supreme vision, pinpoint passing, rebounding, defense and ability to spark instant fast breaks helped him amass 12,091 assists (second-most in NBA history), 2,684 steals (second all-time), 107 triple-doubles (fourth all-time), 10 all-star appearances, five all-NBA first-team nods, four all- defensive first-team selections, two Olympic Gold Medals and one NBA Championship with Dallas. “I would love for my legacy to be that I made teammates better, found a way to win and used his speed as his gift and his basketball IQ to help his team win,” Kidd said.
Narrative by Ohm Youngmisuk