Jason, of course, will always be an MVP in our eyes. We'll never forget the aftermath of the CIF state championships after his junior season at St. Joseph in 1990 when he could barely walk into the postgame interview room due to a hip injury. Minutes earlier, he was diving for loose balls, pushing the ball up the court like no one before (or since) and defending like a demon. Forgetting all the assists, steals and points he scored for the Pilots, it was that kind of intensity and determination that always set him apart to us.
If Kidd had been the MVP instead of Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs, he would have followed in the path ot other recent MVPs who went to high school in California. The list goes something like this:
Super Bowl -- Tom Brady (Serra, San Mateo).
American League 2000 -- Jason Giambi (South Hills, West Covina).
National League 2001 -- Barry Bonds (Serra, San Mateo).
National League 2000 -- Jeff Kent (Edison, Huntington Beach).
WNBA -- Lisa Leslie (Morningside, Inglewood).
World Series -- Randy Johnson (Livermore)*
*Co-MVP with Curt Schilling.
California also is the home state of the best golfer in the world, Tiger Woods (Western, Anaheim), and the fastest woman in the world, Marion Jones (Thousand Oaks). Can any state in the nation come close?
SPEAKING OF TIGER
The PGA phenom made the cover of a Sports Illustrated regular issue for the 10th time after recently winning his third Masters golf championship. That moves him ahead of John Elway (Granada Hills), who has been on the cover nine times, and into second place among athletes from California high schools.
Bill Walton (Helix, La Mesa) leads with 12 times being on the SI cover. His son, Luke, from University of San Diego, honored in early April for his basketball play at the University of Arizona, doesn't count for Bill.
It doesn't happen often, but when Tiger hits into trees, does one say, "Tiger's in the Woods." Also, zoo grottos for tigers that have trees could now be called, "Tiger Woods."
It's been said that the overall Sports Illustrated cover leader is Muhammad Ali, but no total has been reported. Making the cover for the first time, though, just before the latest Tiger Woods issue, was Super Bowl winning QB Tom Brady. Featured on the same cover, in the upper left corner, was a picture of Barry Bonds, also of Serra High of San Mateo. That's two from the same high school on the same cover of SI. Wonder if that's ever happened before?
MORE FROM THE NBA:
Are Paul Pierce of the Celtics or Baron Davis of the Hornets on their way to being two of the greatest players ever from Southern California?
If you count only those from the L.A. and Southern sections (Bill Walton is from a CIF San Diego Section school), cases could be made right now that the best player who went to high school there are among the group of Paul Westphal (Aviation, Redondo Beach); Marques Johnson (Crenshaw, Los Angeles); Gail Goodrich (L.A. Poly); Jamaal Wilkes (Santa Barbara); Reggie Miller (Poly, Riverside) and George Yardley (Newport Harbor, Newport Beach). Yardley is the only one in the International Basketball Hall of Fame, but he's hardly a household name.
Miller is winding up an almost-certain Hall of Fame career with the Indiana Pacers and when he's done it might not be a stretch at all to say that the best male player ever from Southern California and the best female player ever from Southern California are Reggie and his sister, Cheryl.
Which brings us to Pierce and Davis. Pierce was the Cal-Hi Sports State Player of the Year in 1995 from Inglewood High (same school as Reggie Theus and Harold Miner). He's emerged as an all-star this season and had 46 points in game five of the Celtics' recent series with the Philadelphia 76ers. If Pierce keeps it up, he could be a perennial all-star and then what? Move over, Reggie? As for Davis, he was the Cal-Hi Sports State Player of the Year in 1997 and this year has emerged as one of the top point guards in the NBA. If he keeps improving, Baron has the potential to be as explosive a scorer as Allen Iverson but with a much stronger body.
Finally, a question. Who else still going in this year's NBA playoffs other than Kidd, Davis and Pierce is a former California high school player of the year? Keith Van Horn? Nope, try again. Brian Shaw? Nope, same town as who we're thinking of, but wrong. The answer is Paul Silas, head coach of the Charlotte (soon to be New Orleans) Hornets. Silas was the 1960 State Player of the Year from McClymonds of Oakland, the same school that claims the legendary Bill Russell as one of its graduates.
Look for more alumni reports on our site to be posted on other Fridays in the future.