|ESPN.com: NBA||[Print without images]|
Jason Kidd announced his retirement Monday after 19 seasons as one of the best passing and rebounding point guards in NBA history.
The thought of retirement first began to creep into the New York Knicks point guard's mind around the All-Star break. But he didn't think seriously about it until recently. Over the weekend at a wedding in Georgia he made the decision.
"I think it is the right time," Kidd told ESPNNewYork.com. "When you think about 19 years, it has been a heckuva ride. Physically, I want to be able to participate in activities with my kids so it has taken a toll. It is time to move on and think about maybe coaching or doing some broadcasting.
"Jeff [Schwartz] and I and my family had been talking this past weekend," Kidd added of his agent. "We talked a lot and we felt it was the right time to move on and so we notified the Knicks. They were kind of taken aback. We told them [earlier] that I wanted to come back and play. But this weekend was when we got a chance to relax [and really think about it]. It is the right thing to do."
Kidd, 40, leaves the game as a sure-fire Hall of Fame point guard. The 10-time All-Star led the NBA in assists five times and finished second all-time in assists and steals behind John Stockton.
Kidd, who had two years remaining on his contract at just more than $3 million per year, leaves with a legacy that includes an NBA championship with the Dallas Mavericks and two Olympic gold medals with Team USA.
"The two things that are probably tied for first are winning a championship with the Mavericks and also being able to win a gold medal -- two gold medals with Team USA," Kidd said of what he's most proud of in his career. "And then underneath that will probably be sharing Rookie of the Year with Grant [Hill]."
Hill, also 40, announced his retirement on Saturday.
The two things that are probably tied for first are winning a championship with the Mavericks and also being able to win a gold medal -- two gold medals with Team USA. And then underneath that will probably be sharing Rookie of the Year with Grant [Hill].” -- Jason Kidd, on what he's most proud of in his career
During his prime, the versatile Kidd was like an instant fast break due to his uncanny court vision, instincts and ability to rebound. The 6-foot-4 Oakland, Calif., native, who was one of the most hyped high school prospects of his generation, had more triple-doubles (107) than anyone outside of Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson.
Kidd averaged 12.6 points, 8.7 assists, 6.3 rebounds and 1.9 steals in 1,391 regular-season games. He took great pride in his ability to make teammates better and his knack for turning teams around.
"The biggest thing is winning," Kidd said of what he wants to be remembered for. "No matter what percentage, no matter what my numbers say in the sense of points, assists, rebounds and steals, it's always been about winning. And it will always be about winning … making my teammates better."
The second overall pick out of California in the 1994 draft entered the league as part of the "Three J's" with Jim Jackson and Jamal Mashburn in Dallas. Kidd sparked the Mavericks to a 36-win season -- a 23-game improvement from the season before -- to earn co-Rookie of the Year honors with Hill.
After being dealt to the Suns two and a half seasons later, Kidd led the team to a 16-game improvement in his first full season in Phoenix in 1997-98.
And then after being traded to New Jersey in 2001, Kidd transformed the Nets into instant contenders. With Kidd playing at an MVP level, the Nets won 52 games -- a 26-game leap from the season before. It was the Nets' first 50-win season in their NBA history. Kidd also lifted the franchise to the first of two consecutive NBA Finals appearances.
"What we accomplished in New Jersey with the Nets, from the bottom and being able to get to the Finals, back to back, that was really special," Kidd said.
After losing to Shaquille O'Neal and Tim Duncan in back-to-back NBA Finals, Kidd finally got his coveted championship ring as a Maverick. Teaming up with Dirk Nowitzki, Kidd topped LeBron James and the Heat in six games in 2010-11. In his 19th and final season, Kidd signed with the Knicks and helped them win 54 games, an 18-game improvement from the season before. It was the franchise's first 50-win season since 1999-2000.
The Knicks, though, were eliminated in the second round by Indiana in six games. Kidd struggled in the postseason, failing to make a basket in his last 10 playoff games.
Kidd said his struggles at the end did not factor heavily into his decision to retire.
"Everybody will probably say that [it did]," Kidd said. "But I didn't come into the league as a shooter or scorer and I guess I won't be leaving as one. I just tried to play the game the right way. As you get older, Father Time is undefeated. The ball just wouldn't go in for me at the end. I thought I had a great season."
The Knicks will now have to find a backup guard to replace Kidd either through the draft with the 24th overall pick or free agency.
"They got a good group of guys," Kidd said of the Knicks' prospects for next season. "Most people felt that was an old team but we knew that the core of the team -- Melo [Carmelo Anthony], Tyson [Chandler] and J.R. [Smith] -- they are young.
"We had some success so I think they are sitting in a good spot and [general manager] Glen Grunwald and [owner James] Dolan and [coach Mike] Woodson are figuring out the pieces that can help them be a championship-type team."
"Jason's value to the Knicks and the National Basketball Association cannot be quantified by statistics alone," Grunwald said in a statement. "Everyone here in New York saw firsthand what a tremendous competitor he is and why Jason is considered to be one of the best point guards, and leaders, the game has ever seen."
Woodson said in the statement that Kidd "provided an incredible voice inside our locker room and I considered it an honor to say I coached him."
Kidd was often a centerpiece for a contending team. He retires after making the playoffs in 17 consecutive seasons. He finished with a playoff average of 12.9 points, 8.0 assists, 6.7 rebounds and 1.9 steals in 158 career postseason games.
"It's a grind," Kidd said of playing all these years. "Physically, I feel good. Mentally, I might be just a little tired because of the grind. And once if your mind is not into it 100 percent, then you are not going to be successful and bad things can happen with the sense of injuries. I don't want to go down that road. It is time for me to look forward to doing something new."