Jason Kidd had 'nightmares' about not joining up with Duncan, Spurs
He committed to San Antonio, then changed his mind at the last minute
In the wake of Kevin Durant's decision to go to the Golden State Warriors, paired with Tim Duncan's retirement announced Monday after 19 seasons in the NBA, there's a lot of talk about the value of staying home. Remaining with one franchise for a long time changes how your legacy is perceived, because you're tied to one squad. Staying with the team you've had success with is always the safer route.
But it's not always the right one.
Jason Kidd was asked this week about his 2003 decision to stay with the then-New Jersey Nets over the San Antonio Spurs, who courted the MVP point guard. He doesn't exactly look back on that decision fondly.
Calling it "the biggest disappointment," Kidd said he still has nightmares about his decision to stay in New Jersey and sign a six-year, $103 million deal with the Nets, who were soon after broken up by new ownership despite having a roster featuring the key players from two consecutive NBA Finals.
"I thought I was going to be a Spur," Kidd, now the Milwaukee Bucks coach, said while watching his team during the Las Vegas Summer League on Monday. "I committed when I was down there on my visit [to San Antonio].
"On my flight home, I think I got cold feet," Kidd continued. "And sometimes I have nightmares about that. Maybe I could have won a championship or two there. But I got really lucky with Dallas and won a championship."
Kidd went back to Jersey, only for the team to be sold to Bruce Ratner, whose big plans were about moving the team to Brooklyn in conjunction with a massive real estate venture he tied to the arena. It was one long bid not to win championships, but to set up the payday for when the team moved to Brooklyn. Ratner sold his shares to current Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov as part of a $1.7 billion deal for total control of the team.
Kidd was eventually dealt to the Mavericks in 2008, winning the championship in 2011. Kidd also wasn't drafted by the Nets, but by the Mavericks before being dealt to the Suns and later the Nets, so his decision didn't have the same emotional weight as the one LeBron James' or Durant made. But it does provide a solid reminder that it's not always the best decision to remain "loyal" to the franchise you're with, and that players' careers can be altered by the business interests of owners.
If Kidd had gone to the Spurs? They might have won the 2004 title over the Detroit Pistons, and would have had the same shot in 2005 as San Antonio did. Kidd's prime extended nearly to 2010, and the Spurs would have been a title contender every year. Except, they were anyway. Kidd was talked about as an upgrade over Tony Parker, but Parker began to come into his own in the 2005 season, and by 2007, he was the main engine of the team. That continued through 2013 and 2014 when Kidd would have been gone most likely, as Parker was the conductor of that brilliant Spurs offense that dominated with crisp passing and seamless execution.
Maybe the other lesson from Kidd's decision to return to Brooklyn is that the grass isn't always greener. Kidd's a future Hall of Fame point guard, but so is Tony Parker, and his prime helped extend the viability of the Spurs to bridge the gap between Duncan and Kawhi Leonard's emergence, and continues to this day. Still, to think about one of the best point guards in NBA history running the Spurs offense is a pretty incredible concept.
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