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NEW YORK -- The Brooklyn Nets honored one of the franchise's best players ever by retiring and raising Jason Kidd's No. 5 jersey to the rafters at the Barclays Center on Thursday night.
Kidd was honored and grateful but also wanted the 10-minute ceremony to go as quickly as possible so he could get back to his new job -- coaching the Nets, who faced the Miami Heat in a preseason game.
|Jason Kidd, who guided the Nets to two NBA Finals as a player, had his No. 5 jersey retired to the Barclays Center rafters Thursday.|
"I don't know if anyone's had their number retired and had to go to work," Kidd said before the game. "I'm a rookie coach. So this game, [the ceremony] being [in the] preseason is something I wanted. I wanted to get this over with as quickly as possible and then get back to my team.
"I'm going from that to telling my team to keep LeBron out of the paint."
Former Nets general manager and current NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn, former teammate Kerry Kittles, former Nets great Buck Williams, and former assistant coach and current Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan were present to watch only the sixth Nets jersey to be retired. Kidd thanked his family and former teammates and coaches.
The team showed a video tribute with highlights of several of Kidd's warp-speed fast breaks and alley-oops to teammates such as Kenyon Martin, Richard Jefferson and Vince Carter.
"If you're an athlete, a runner, a slasher, there's people you dream about playing with -- it's Magic Johnson, it's Steve Nash, it's Jason Kidd," Jefferson, now with the Jazz, said earlier this week. "I don't think in the history of the game there has ever been a guy to dominate more games without scoring."
Upon his arrival from Phoenix to New Jersey in a trade for Stephon Marbury in 2001, Kidd orchestrated an incredible turnaround as the Nets went from winning 26 games the season before to 52 victories in his first season (2001-02). He led the Nets to two consecutive NBA Finals appearances. Under Kidd's watch, the Nets won their first two Eastern Conference championships and four Atlantic Division titles.
"No one thought we could win," Kidd said. "We did. We had a good team; we just came short of that big trophy. But we got there twice."
Kidd finished second to Tim Duncan in MVP voting during the 2001-02 season despite the 26-game turnaround.
"He got cheated out of his MVP," Martin told ESPNNewYork.com. "They gave it to Tim Duncan. Come on, man. You turn the franchise around like that, you double the win total and you don't give this man the MVP? That is a slap in the face to me."
The Nets were swept by the Lakers in their first trip to the Finals that season before bowing to the Spurs in six games the following season.
"We got to Game 6; we felt we should have won that game," Kidd said of the Finals matchup against the Spurs in 2002-03. "We let it get away. But they were the better team."
In his 6½ seasons in New Jersey, Kidd averaged 14.6 points, 9.1 assists and 7.2 rebounds per game. As a Net, he was a five-time All-Star, and was All-NBA three times and All-Defensive team six times. He owns the franchise records for assists (4,620), steals (950), 3-point field goals made (813) and triple-doubles (61).
"First-ballot Hall of Famer," Thorn said. "There just aren't many Jason Kidds, players that play to win the game and that aren't worried about their stats and aren't worried about how they look.
"He made other players better. Very few players can do that. He will live in the pantheon of great players in the NBA."