One of American sports’ greatest appeals is made up of storylines. Every year there are plenty of them, and every single one of them has its main character.
One year we witness a Championship run made by a starring player that dressed the same uniform for the entirety of his career, making a dream come true, cementing a special and unforgettable legacy with the team he’s done so much for.
Then there’s another year, in which victory goes to a player that spent his time trying to win in a certain place doin’ everything he could and then raising the Larry O’Brien Trophy after joining another team.
Jason Kidd’s NBA history is not much different but very particular. Back in the days, he already was a Maverick, but things developed the wrong way pushing him out of town, preventing him to play a prominent role in Dallas’ expected resurgence.
Elsewhere, he came close to a title on two different occasions, missing the opportunity in both cases.
Dallas chose him in 1994 draft, No. 2 overall, as the next decade's playmaker only to trade him two-and-a-half seasons later when the team’s management realized that the franchise was going nowhere.
Seventeen years removed from that high draft pick, Kidd finally raised the trophy that he dreamed for so long. The Mavs became for the first time ever NBA Champs, and that long-term project was finalized in a positively bizarre way.
Isn’t that storyline nice?
It was difficult not to root for Kidd, even if you’re a fan of every other team that is not called Miami. He had a stellar career in which he creatively rewrote the concepts of the playmaking role, making himself comparable to many all-time greats.
He would’ve deserve Hall Of Fame credit even if he wouldn’t win that same NBA title that he finally reached last Sunday.
He dominated throughout his career with a pass-first mentality, he never was a selfish player or a great scorer. He won many games without double-digits scores. He won them creating opportunities for other people.
This pass artist always saw things that common humans couldn’t see, comprehending offensive schemes’ developments two or three seconds before all the other players on the floor.
Being one of the greatest point guards ever in rebounding enabled him to start countless fast breaks and to finish some others. His ball-handling skills defined his high quality plays.
That same skills were largely known by the time he was an high school senior, when he unconsciously started a recruiting battle eventually won by California, which he chose to remain close to home.
Oakland’s playgrounds developed his toughness, especially when he used to play against voracious trash talkers such as Gary Payton, another Bay Area product.
When Kidd first came to Dallas, the team was trying to reinvent itself after arriving to the 1988 Western Conference finals only in its seventh year of existence. In the early '90s the Mavericks were one of the league’s most deteriorated teams and came seriously close in beating the 76ers for the worst all-time regular season record.
He was the Three J’s last added piece: Jim Jackson was already in town, Jamal Mashburn came by in 1993, and the only thing that was missing was the game’s most important figure, a skilled playmaker.
However, even with Kidd on board, Dallas did not reach the playoffs, and the project was literally abandoned after realizing that the three potential stars couldn’t play together.
Jason’s next destination was Phoenix, where he reached the postseason for the first time, playing in it for five consecutive seasons and becoming instantly the team’s leader.
In the desert, he partially ruined his image because of a domestic violence charge that his wife Joumana filed against him.
In 2001, somewhere else, the New Jersey Nets were realizing that Stephon Marbury would not take them anywhere. The two players were consequently swapped, and Kidd had the biggest impact for his new team.
He never took his New Jersey landing as a punishment. He took it as an opportunity. He rewrote the franchise’s bad history changing its losing habits, making it surprisingly respectable for years to come.
He led the Nets to a double journey to the team’s first ever NBA Finals in his first two seasons, expressing a high-geared type of basket, elevating the game’s pace, challenging every opponent to beat the quickness-based Flying Circus, in which Kenyon Martin and Richard Jefferson slammed down every ball that Kidd gorgeously feed them.
However, that was not enough to beat the Shaq and Kobe combo in 2002 or the stronger San Antonio Spurs the following year.
That was the closest Kidd got to an NBA ring 'til last Sunday. The Nets got in postseason play for the next four consecutive years but never made deep playoffs runs again.
Age was clearly a concern, and the window for a run to the Championship was closing fast. New Jersey wanted to rebuild, Kidd didn't want to play for a team that wouldn’t present him the opportunity to achieve his main goal.
The consequences were obvious.
Dallas had lost the 2006 Finals against Miami despite a 2-0 advantage and was collecting too many early exits from postseason play, even when the team stockpiled 67 W’s in the 2007 regular season only to be knocked out in the playoffs’ first round by a surprising Golden State squad.
The Mavs were searching for someone who could ignite their sometimes stagnant offense, which was relying too heavily on Dirk Nowitzki’s enormous talent.
Kidd went to his second trip to Dallas. He came back as a dominant player but of a different kind. He morphed Dallas' previously shoot-first guarding system, bringing his high basketball IQ and a visionary passing ability to the table.
And he took away the excess of attentions in Nowitzki’s regards, making opposing defenses pay with a never-seen-before percentage from outside the arc and an overall wisely improved play.
His defense became a key to Dallas’ 2011 success, as he stoically opposed his older body against the bigger LeBron James. His threes were also crucial in two of the six games played.
The NBA Championship was the last and most important mission in Kidd’s basketball life. It completes an already stellar career (which seems far from being over), built around over 16,000 points, 11,000 assists, 8,000 rebounds and the all-time third place for three-pointers made.
The latter statistic is the most impressive, since never in his career Kidd was regarded as an above-average shooter.
Since he graced NBA parquet floors with his creative play, it became evident that he would become a special player. He already was in college. Now he’s won the title that he hunted for 17 long years with the team that originally drafted him.
That was a crazy turn of events, for sure. And one of the nicest storylines ever written.
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