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News » At 36, savvy Kidd still steals the show Guard adept at taking it away and dishing it out

At 36, savvy Kidd still steals the show Guard adept at taking it away and dishing it out

At 36, savvy Kidd still steals the show Guard adept at taking it away and dishing it out If you were building the perfect Basketball player, using parts from various NBA stars, you would do well to start with Jason Kidd's brain.

You can get the legs and a few other body parts elsewhere. Even Kidd acknowledges that. But he's quick to add that there's no substitute for Basketball smarts.

"I'd rather lose a step and know what I know,'' Kidd says, "than have that step back and not know anything.''

There is plenty to back up that statement. The numbers, the career and the fact that he's regarded as perhaps the best leader in the game all speak to the success the Mavericks' point guard has had in a remarkable 15-year run that he wants everybody to know isn't over yet.

In fact, this will be a special year for Kidd, no matter what. And it will be big for other reasons than the ones you might suspect.

Everybody knows that Kidd will go down in NBA history as a player who loves to give the ball away. Before he's done, he will have passed the ball better than anyone except John Stockton.

Of less renown, but just as important to his legacy, is that Kidd also is a player who loves to take the ball away.

Kidd, now with a full year in Rick Carlisle's system and a career's worth of knowledge to guide him, is in rare company. He'll pass Mark Jackson for No. 2 on the all-time NBA assists list early this season and has a chance to finish his career No. 2 in steals, too.

With his 10th theft this season, he'll pass Clyde Drexler for No. 6. He should be up to No. 4 by the end of the season.

Not bad for a 36-year-old guy who everybody says doesn't have the quickness he once did.

Still going strong

What he does have left is still pretty special.

"He has a special sense for defensive anticipation,'' Carlisle said. "Guys that have that unusual trait get a lot of steals without a lot of missed steal opportunities that leave a defense vulnerable.

"And he's got a very good assist-to-turnover ratio, which is difficult for a guy who plays the game at a fast pace and makes as many passes as he does. Plus, the strength of Kidd's will is infectious.''

Kidd's fortitude was on display in, of all places, Pittsburgh last week. When Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki found out they weren't playing in the preseason game against Cleveland, they went to the arena three hours early to get in a rigorous workout.

Shooting and wind sprints ensued for more than 90 minutes.

And people wonder why they are two first-ballot Hall of Famers.

Numbers game

Kidd attributes his success in the steals department to several things. He also believes his abilities are similar to the all-time Stealy Man, Stockton, a player for whom Kidd has great reverence.

"Just being around the ball,'' Kidd says of how to be a good steals player. "Seeing the floor and knowing what other players are likely to do is important. Look back at Stock's career. At both ends of the court, he was involved in just about every play. I don't think he gets enough credit for his career. People talk about championships, and we all want to win them. But some of the guys who don't still have some of the best careers.

"Stock put those numbers so far out there, I don't know if anybody will ever touch them.''

Nobody is threatening. Not even Kidd. But it's interesting that his steals per game since arriving with the Mavericks a year and a half ago have gone up over those from his last five seasons with New Jersey, when he never reached the two-steal-per-game plateau.

He's averaging just over two per game since coming to Dallas.

Clearly, the legs still work well enough to get the job done. And even if he's lost a step as he goes through his mid-30s (he'll turn 37 in March), the hands are still as quick as the brain cells.

And that more than makes up for that lost step.

Steal will

NBA all-time steals leaders:

Player Stls.

1. John Stockton 3,265

2. Michael Jordan 2,514

3. Gary Payton 2,445

4. Maurice Cheeks 2,310

5. Scottie Pippen 2,307

6. Clyde Drexler 2,207

7. Jason Kidd 2,198

8. Hakeem Olajuwon 2,162

9. Alvin Robertson 2,112

10. Karl Malone 2,085

Wizards at Mavericks , 7:30 p.m. Tuesday (FSSW)

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Author: Fox Sports
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Added: October 27, 2009


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