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05-23-2003, 10:33 AM
Kidd hungry to claim championship
By Terry Brown
NBA Insider
Friday, May 23
Updated: May 23
10:54 AM ET


This is no longer about the New Jersey Nets and Detroit Pistons. This postseason shuffle that will have the Eastern Conference Champs from Newark play the winner of the Dallas Maverick-San Antonio Spurs series isn't even about Tim Duncan or Dirk Nowitzki or Don Nelson or Mark Cuban. The 2003 NBA season is coming down to one player, one trophy and one shot at basketball immortality. Jason Kidd is five wins away from history.

"Growing up in the Bay Area, Joe was everything to us," Kidd said in the NY Post a day before dismantling the Detroit Pistons last night, 97-85, in the third game of the Eastern Conference Finals and ninth playoff win in a row for the Nets. "That's what you wanted to be. That's who you wanted to be."

Forget the stats and the heights and weights and regular season standings. Jason Kidd invoked Joe, meaning he was calling out Magic and Isiah and Oscar, not needing to use surnames like Montana and Johnson and Thomas and Robertson. He's the one making this Eastern Conference Final series more than just a contest between the two best players in the game who can beat you without ever scoring.

Sure, this is the fourth season in a row that Jason Kidd has led the league in assists per game, but does anyone doubt that with two rebounding titles in a row after averaging more than 13 rebounds per game for the third year in a row, Detroit Piston big man Ben Wallace couldn't match that feat in a different statistical column.

The difference, though, is that this year the assist leader is about to eliminate the rebound leader in four straight games and it isn't even that close. "Every night, we feel he'll dominate the position," teammate Richard Jefferson said in the Newark Star-Ledger. "That's a pretty good feeling for a team to have." But it's only the beginning.

Ben Wallace can be the rebounding champ as well as the two-time Defensive Player of the Year, throw in more statistics like blocked shots and the fact that he's only 6-foot-9 or even a customized bobble head with wild afro and thousands of fans holding up posterboards and wearing fake wigs.

At this point in his career, Jason Kidd doesn't want to be Dennis Rodman, the seven-time rebounding champ and ultimate statistical freak show, or Michael Cage, the 1988 rebounding champ at 13 per game who no one remembers, or Chris Webber, the 1999 rebounding champ also at 13 per game who never averaged more than 11.1 again.

"Jason is one of the fiercest competitors you'll see," Net coach Byron Scott said in the Detroit News. "On the basketball court people think Jason has this quiet and unassuming personality. But deep down inside he wants to rip your heart out. He wants to beat you worst than anybody. That's what makes him great."

He's the one making the eventual NBA Championship series more than just a contest involving one of the best true point guards who never won an NBA title. Let's not forget that John Stockton made it to the NBA Finals twice, too. He also led the league in assists nine times in a row while compiling more than anyone in the history of the game at 15,806. For all his accomplishments to this point, Kidd still has just 6,120 assists in 9 seasons. Stockton had 8,352 at that point and then played another 10.

The difference, though, is that Magic Johnson won five NBA Titles and Stockton didn't win one so that is who they'll be comparing Kidd to.
"They're almost mirror images of each other, except that Earvin is five inches taller," Scott said in the Detroit News. "Both of them are unbelievable leaders. Both of them are unbelievable competitors. Magic was the best at getting other guys involved in the game and that's the person Jason emulated ... He's not a point guard of this certain era that looks to score first. Jason truly does look to get his other guys going before he looks to take over a game."

Sure, Kidd gets a lot more rebounds than Stockton ever did, but the future Utah Jazz Hall of Famer shot a heck of a lot better from the field. Their scoring will even out, as will their steal averages. But at this point in his career, Jason Kidd is no longer interested in becoming a historical footnote.

The Eastern Conference title is meaningless now after ressurecting this franchise with the flick of his wrist last year. Nine playoff wins in a row? Ten? Eleven? 15,807 assists over a career? "We haven't done anything or accomplished anything at this point," Kidd said in the NY Daily News. "This series isn't over yet and until we hold the big trophy, then we have accomplished something."

Last night, Jason Kidd led his team in every major statistical category, compiling 34 points, 12 rebounds and 6 assists while adding in 4 steals, a three-pointer and 11 of 13 shooting from the free throw line. "I know Jason," Scott said in the Hartford Courant. "He's a big-time competitor. He takes a challenge. He's an All-Star and a future Hall of Famer. We wanted to force our will on them tonight, not walk the ball up the court. I saw a guy tonight [Kidd] who wanted to win."

If nothing else, he's lengthened the title underneath his name on his Hall of Fame tag. But what he really wants to win is the right to shorten that title to just one word.

Kidd.

signoftimes
05-23-2003, 10:40 AM
Walton was talking about this during the game last night. Kidd is going to stay in New Jersey, but wants a title. I respect that. If he wanted a title so badly, he could be making moves to go to San Antonio. That doesn't seem to be his plan. He took a crap a$$ team in New Jersey and is winning the East again. Unfortunately, I don't see a Kidd led Jersey team winning it all.

Also, Walton kept commenting on Kidd' beautiful green eyes (creepy).

LRB
05-23-2003, 12:05 PM
All Kidd has too look forward to is being the best in the east. MVP of the JV so to speak.