Jim Mancari, SNYNets.com
On Monday, Jason Kidd decided to call it quits after a 19-year career that saw him make 10 All-Star Teams and five All-NBA First Teams. He won an NBA championship as a member of the Dallas Mavericks and retires third on the list of all-time three-point shot makers—trailing just Reggie Miller (second) and Ray Allen (first).
When becoming a fan of a team, a youngster usually latches on to one star player. That player becomes the focal point of the fandom until the youngster gains an appreciation for the rest of the team.
That’s at least what happened to me when I became a New Jersey Nets fan.
Though I’m from Long Island, I never was too interested in following the Knicks. I was more of a baseball fan growing up and thus mostly played that sport.
I of course knew who the top hoops players in the game were at that time from watching ESPN, and I always liked seeing the highlights of Phoenix Suns’ point guard Jason Kidd.
Of all his qualities, it was his vision on the court that captured my interest – especially his no-look passes. Sure he could also drain three-pointers, but Kidd exemplified what it meant to play a team game.
During the 2001 offseason, my attitude towards basketball changed completely right around the time the Nets acquired Kidd for Stephon Marbury, Johnny Newman and Soumaila Samake. I found that I became much more interested in the sport, knowing that one of my favorite players was playing for a local team.
I instantly became a Nets’ fan.
It’s certainly much easier to become a fan of a team that is actually competitive. The Nets were coming off a 26-56 year in 2000-2001, but Kidd immediately changed the culture, leading the team to back-to-back NBA Finals appearances.
As a young fan, naturally I tried to emulate Kidd as I began playing more basketball. I certainly couldn’t shoot like Kidd, but I was always looking to make the perfectly-timed pass to one of teammates. I loved bringing the ball up the court and setting up the plays, and frankly I didn’t care if I scored many points.
That was all the direct result of Kidd becoming a Net. I’m sure there are countless similar stories from kids in the N.Y. metro area.
So now that Kidd is finally hanging up the sneakers at age 40, I wouldn’t say that I’m crushed to see him go. It’s the right time since we saw how he wore down this year after a good start with the Knicks.
I was more upset when he was traded in 2008. I knew he still had a few good years left, and I was happy that he was finally able to win a championship in 2011 with the Dallas Mavericks – the team that drafted him. But I wish that championship would have come with the Nets.
It was tough to see him physically break down this year after watching him play at such a high level for so many years. But that’s just Father Time taking his course. Rather than ail through the final two years of his contract, he knew it was time to go.
I look forward to the day when the 19-year veteran is voted into the Naismith Hall of Fame. With his basketball resume, he’s a sure fire first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Jason Kidd is the reason I became a basketball fan; he’s the reason I became a Nets’ fan; and he’s the reason why I’m still a Nets’ fan, since watching him play indebted my loyalty to this team.
Jim Mancari is a Contributor to SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter @JMMancari.