Exclusive: Kidd Laughs Off Retirement Rumors
"Nope, I'm not retiring,'' Kidd tells us seriously before cracking a smile. "Not only am I having too much fun – I've also got bills to pay. So I'm not going anywhere.''
Before Kidd, 38, completely immerses himself in finding ways to combat Oklahoma City foes like Russell Westbrook who are 16 years his junior, the legendary point guard is taking a moment with us to clear up speculation that may simply go hand-in-glove with … well, with being a 38-year-old point guard.
"It goes with the territory, I guess,'' says Kidd, who will lead the Dallas Mavericks into these Western Conference Finals and give himself a chance to play in the NBA Finals for the third time. He did so in 2002 and 2003 as a member of the New Jersey Nets, losing those series to, respectively, the Lakers and Spurs.
"When you are younger, you think (contention) is automatic,'' Kidd says. "It doesn't work out that way.''
The Mavericks know that all too well, having lost their own Finals series in 2006 before Kidd joined the club. And now, because Dirk Nowitzki is 32 and because of Kidd's age, there is speculation and even news reports alleging that as the window is theoretically closing, Kidd might close it voluntarily. One report this week claims "Kidd has said he'll walk away from the final year of his contract if a lockout wipes out much or all of next season.''
"Nope, I'm not retiring,'' Kidd reiterates to DB.com. "I think that's a misunderstanding on somebody's part. But I've got a year left ($8.5 mil for 2011-12) on his contract. We'll see what happens after that. But no, no retirement plans.''
Kidd likely feels especially fresh right now, with eight days between games as Dallas ousted the Lakers in a four-game sweep and won't play again until Tuesday's Game 1 at the AAC against the visiting Thunder. Kidd, who has a chance at becoming the oldest starting point guard on a title team, has a habit of rejuvenating himself … and reinventing himself, too.
Entering this season, Kidd was top six all-time in the NBA in six categories. … He was top 50 all-time in 13 categories. … There are only three men in the history of the NBA with career averages of eight-plus assists and six-plus rebounds (also the only three men to have over 100 triple-doubles): Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, and Jason Kidd. … He was the only guy in the history of the NBA with career numbers of 7,000-plus assists, 7,000-plus rebounds, and 2,000-plus steals, with career numbers of 10,000-plus assists and 7,000-plus rebounds, with career averages of seven-plus assists, six-plus rebounds, and two-plus steals …
He's spent this season piling on more numbers … he recorded his 11,000th assist this season … he moved past Gary Payton into third all-time in NBA steals. … and he's a 3-point weapon, too, as evidenced by the fact that he's third all-time in made treys, too.
Three years ago, no one in the history of the NBA had ever averaged five-plus rebounds, eight-plus assists, and 40-plus percent on 3's in a single season. But in 2008-09, Kidd did it for the first time – and then last year, he shot over 40 percent from the arc again (a career-high 42.5 percent). This season, some of the numbers have taken a dip. But in Round 1, Kidd opened up the series by making six 3's and scoring 24 points. And on the defensive end, Round 2 placed him in the role of Kobe-stopper (or, at last, Kobe-controller).
"Savant-like,'' says coach Rick Carlisle of Kidd, yet while BBIQ is his greatest strength, there are simple measurables, too, that suggest Kidd remains a threat in conventional departments.
Dallas won 57 this year and, good to tie it for the second-best record in the West, and over the course of 82 games Kidd was a constant: He finished the season averaging 7.9 points and 8.2 assists (down from the previous year's 10.1 points and 9.1 assists). But importantly, he did it while playing 33 minutes per, three minutes fewer than in 2009-10.
Maybe those minutes kept in the bank are about to pay off as Kidd will be matched, at least at times, with OKC's Westbrook, 22. Kidd knows there are those pushing for a passing of the torch … those who think it's going to happen in this series as the old-timer is challenged to chase around the youngster.
"They might be right,'' Kidd says, smiling again, this time in front of a massive media group. "But the big thing is there might be a lot of jealously that I'm still playing at 38."
And another big thing is that no matter what "they'' say, Jason Kidd fully intends on playing when he's 39, too.