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NEW YORK — Jason Kidd became one of the best by making others better.
He turned around a longtime-losing franchise, guided another to a championship, and helped his last one to its first division title since the year he came into the NBA 19 years ago.
Teammates loved him. The U.S. national team needed him.
But he looked more burned out than brilliant in the final weeks of the season, and on Monday he decided to end one of the greatest careers for a point guard in league history.
“My time in professional basketball has been an incredible journey, but one that must come to an end after 19 years,” Kidd said in a statement released by the New York Knicks. “As I reflect on my time with the four teams I represented in the NBA, I look back fondly at every season and thank each and every one of my teammates and coaches that joined me on the court.”
Kidd won an NBA title and two Olympic gold medals, is second on the career list in assists and steals, and was a 10-time All-Star. But he missed 22 of his 25 shots in the postseason and was scoreless in his final 10 playoff games shortly after turning 40, and decided to walk away with two years and more than $6 million left on the deal he signed last summer.
Kidd went on from there to have big impacts on every team he joined. He led the Nets to two NBA Finals in 2002-03, helped the Dallas Mavericks win the 2011 title, and was on the first Knicks team to reach the second round of the playoffs since 2000.
He averaged 12.6 points, 8.7 assists, 6.3 rebounds and 1.93 steals in a career that also included a stop in Phoenix. Kidd had numerous ways to make his mark on games, ranking third on the career list with 107 triple-doubles while finishing third all-time in 3-pointers made, despite being considered a poor outside shooter when he came into the league.
“Amazing career,” Nowitzki wrote. “He always put the team and winning first. All the best to him in retirement.”
The Knicks signed Kidd away from Dallas last summer with a three-year deal, and he helped them flourish with a lineup that often featured two point guards. They won 54 games and their first Atlantic Division title since 1994, which was just before Kidd was drafted by Dallas with the No. 2 overall pick.
“Jason’s value to the Knicks and the National Basketball Association cannot be quantified by statistics alone,” Knicks general manager Glen Grunwald said. “Everyone here in New York saw firsthand what a tremendous competitor he is and why Jason is considered to be one of the best point guards, and leaders, the game has ever seen.”
He got off to a rocky start with the Knicks, arrested on a drunken-driving charge shortly after signing last July — Kidd was also arrested on a domestic violence charge while playing with Phoenix in 2001 , acknowledging he struck his former wife — but he turned out to be the leader the team sought.
By David Keene
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