- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Tony Parker and Jason Kidd have been joined at the hip in the NBA Finals because of Kidd’s inability to profess his unyielding devotion to the Nets.

The comparison is starting to work against Kidd, just as the Spurs are starting to finish the work against the Nets.

Kidd is almost committed to the Nets, which merely has planted a seed of doubt in both New Jersey and San Antonio.

The politician-like parsing has resulted in a predictable amount of speculation, not unlike the time Michael Jordan put his conviction to stay retired at 99.9 percent while conducting top-secret workouts in Chicago.

Kidd, as the story goes, wants to win an NBA championship in the worst way, and it is hard to envision that prospect as long as the center in New Jersey is Jason Collins or Dikembe Mutombo or Aaron Williams.

Kidd, perhaps the best point guard there is in the NBA, has the option to explore his worth on the open market after the season. The Spurs have two enticements: two-time MVP Tim Duncan and all the salary cap room necessary to award Kidd a maximum contract worth more than $12million a year.

The thought of Duncan and Kidd working in tandem next season has led to a considerable amount of swooning around the NBA.

Kidd, curious as it is, seems as light-headed as almost everyone else.

The cool one in all this has been Parker, the 21-year-old accident from the French League who has demonstrated a sturdier resolve than Kidd in the first three games of the series.

Parker has been indifferent to the swirl and to the prevailing question, however many times it is rephrased, which goes as follows: “How does it feel to be playing against the point guard who could take your job?”

Or the follow-ups: “Aren’t you angry? Aren’t you bitter? This is the thanks you get from the Spurs?”

Give us some of that fabled French attitude, some Jacques Chirac Lite.

Parker is not biting on any of it, as his improbable journey unfolds in incremental fashion. He was born in Belgium and honed his skill in the ever-modest French League, which contributed to his precipitous drop in the 2001 NBA Draft and selection as the 28th pick overall.

It was only two years ago that Parker was getting up in the wee hours in France to watch the NBA championship games live. Now he is one of the guys he was watching on television.

Now Parker is hitting big shots in the NBA Finals, and he is harassing Kidd all over the court, and he is putting his stamp on the series as he emerges from his supporting role in the Kidd-induced drama.

Parker has outplayed Kidd in two of the three games and has caused a certain rethinking on the proposition before the Spurs. The higher-ups with the Spurs, in the spirit of being one big happy family, insist a Kidd-Parker pairing in the backcourt could work, if it comes to that.

That is how the potential merger is perceived on paper anyway, which is sometimes as good as it gets.

Parker has two obvious qualities on Kidd. Parker, in being nine years younger, is fraught with upside. Imagine how efficient Parker might be at directing an offense in five or six years. Parker also is a more consistent outside shooter than Kidd, who is prone to woeful shooting stretches, as if he is shooting with his eyes closed.

Kidd was mostly a tormented All-Star in his seven seasons in the top-loaded Western Conference. He was shown the playoff door in the first round on four of five occasions. It was only in the asterisk-like environment of the center-deficient Eastern Conference that it became fashionable to mention Kidd as an MVP candidate.

The Nets are Kidd’s team. The Spurs never can be his team. The ownership of a team on the floor is one of the trickier dynamics of the NBA, as it remains so with Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.

If Kidd moves to San Antonio, he would be hardly behaving as an MVP candidate in the prime of his career who has led the Nets to the cusp of an NBA championship the last two seasons. He would be, in a way, taking the weak-kneed way out.

Consider this: The Nets may lack a viable counter to Duncan, but if Kidd had not shot 4-for-17 in Game 1 and 6-for-19 in Game 3, the Nets could be up 3-0 in the series instead of down 2-1.

If Kidd is the man, now is the time to demonstrate it instead of in the free agent signing period.



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