When many teams are going up against the San Antonio Spurs and losing, it’s very easy to get frustrated and start taking awful shots. It’s easy for that team to grow lax on defense as they struggle to close the gap, only to see that gap grow as the disciplined Spurs continue adding points. It’s easy for a coach to yell at player and vice-versa.
The above-described scenario is exactly what happened when the New York Knicks played the Spurs November 15th. Mike Woodson and Tyson Chandler got into a yelling match on the sideline as the team slowly disintegrated.
Then a calm voice spoke up and said, “We’re not out of this one yet … they’re going to let us back.”
Jason Kidd, the 40-year-old point guard, had seen something in the way the Spurs were playing that gave him confidence. He saw something that many players might never develop the ability to recognize: Kidd realized that the Spurs were exhausted and a step too slow.
He was right. After hitting a couple of big shots himself and seeing the team lock down on the defensive side, the Knicks beat the San Antonio Spurs by a score of 104-100.
It’s because of Kidd that the Knicks gained the needed confidence in the second half of the fourth quarter to beat what is arguably the most complete team in the league.
Before the Knicks vs. Heat game on Thursday night, LeBron James told reporters that Kidd was a “key piece” for the Knicks. “I think his basketball IQ is pretty much one of the highest that we have in this league, and it kind of trickles down to everyone else,” James said.
When he went out with back spasms and missed four games the Knicks felt it, losing to the New Jersey Nets in overtime on poor offensive execution. With Kidd, that poor execution decreases significantly.
Upon Kidd’s return, Raymond Felton was more than excited to have him back. “He’s back. I got my mentor back out there,” Felton said. “I’m happy to have him back. My big brother is back on the court with me.”
Many of Kidd’s contributions to the Knicks won’t show on the stats sheet. While he easily gets assists and timely steals—some of which are so fast cameras can’t even pick them up—it’s the intangibles that really make a difference.
In Thursday night’s win over the Charlotte Bobcats, Kidd had tips, deflections, catches, steals and rebounds on the defensive end. He even came up with three blocks on the night. On the offensive end, he hit timely baskets and set players up to score. Without Kidd’s play two nights ago, the Knicks would have been the Bobcats’ eighth victory.
Not bad for a guy who needed to have his minutes “watched” because of his back.
He is excelling in the shooting guard role, and while he keeps finding the open man—helping the Knicks hit 40.8 percent of their shots from downtown—he’s also hitting many of his own threes, shooting a career high 51.1 percent and making two per game.
Kidd is one of the oldest players in the NBA, but he is also a champion. When the team needs him most he can recognize when a team is just a step too slow from fatigue. And he makes the needed shot when necessary. At the end of the day, Kidd is the key to the Knicks’ success. And so far, the team is gelling wonderfully with Kidd on the court.
Jacob writes about the NBA as a whole, but has a slight passion for the New York Knicks. He is co-founder of Curave.