2002-2003 Stats: 80 GP, 37.4 MPG, 18.7 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 8.9 APG, 2.2 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 41.4% FG%, 34.1 3P%, 84.1 FT%
2002-2003 Advanced: 52.6% TS%, 46.5% eFG%, 22.2 PER, 106 ORtg, 96 DRtg, 11.3 WS
All-Star Team? Yes
Team: 49-33, Lost in NBA Finals to San Antonio Spurs (4-2)
The Nets weren’t surprising anyone anymore. The league knew how good they were; they’d doubled their win total from 26 to 52 and made it to their first NBA Finals. They knew what Kidd meant. They knew that Kenyon Martin was a defensive force, that Richard Jefferson could dunk, that Kerry Kittles could fit in.
But with the target on their backs, the Nets got right back to the Finals behind Kidd, who somehow played even better. Don’t let the MVP votes fool you: Kidd had the better story in 2001-2002, but he had the better year in 2002-2003.
It’s hard to put into words just how good Kidd was. He did it all. He ran the floor and led a half-court and transition offense like few point guards in NBA history knew how. He turned a bleak franchise led by Stephon Marbury into a conference’s best team for two years running with no buffer time.
Kidd made unselfishness cool. He turned passes into careers and defense into an artform. He nabbed five triple-doubles and came within one pass or rebound of seven more. He dominated night in and night out, leading the team in points per game while leading the league in assists per game.
He led the team on a ten-game winning streak — in the playoffs. He kept it alive midway through with that ridiculous fallaway game-winner over seven-footer Mehmet Okur in Game 1 of the semifinals vs. Detroit, against a top-seeded Pistons team that had won six straight playoff games at home. It keyed the last sweep in the history of the Eastern Conference Finals. After that, he led the Nets to their only two NBA Finals wins in their franchise’s history.
In New Jersey, the Nets had a history of fair-weather fans, more excited to see everyone from Shawn Kemp to LeBron James come to town and wreak havoc. But Kidd made all that irrelevant. It was no longer a trip to see an opponent make it rain, it was a trip to see how Kidd would fool his next victim.
You don’t need to read me talking about it. You need to watch it.
Part of the fun of this All-Time Nets All-Star voting is that you can vote for whoever you want. If you want to vote for all 5 guys, you can do that. If you want to vote “no” on everybody, you can do that too.
But at the end of the day, you know you’re voting for Kidd. This is just a race for second.