Return of the prodigal Kidd

NEW YORK – Jason Kidd leaned against a wall in the Baruch College gym and reflected on his time with the Nets. You believed some of the things he said, but not all of them.
 
kidd_250.jpgFor instance, he feels great about what he accomplished with the Nets. You have to believe that. He took them from nothing and made them something.
 
But some of the things Kidd said on the eve of his first game back in New Jersey since the February trade to Dallas made this skeptical sports writer think No. 5 wasn’t being completely honest.
 
I know what you’re thinking: You expect a professional athlete to tell the truth? Right, I’m not nave, but you would like to hear things like, ‘This is a big game for me especially since everyone has painted me out to be a bad guy for the way it ended.” 
 
OK, that’s just wishful thinking, and it rarely ever happens and it won’t happen with Kidd. He’s very calculated. He never really lets anyone know what he’s thinking until he’s had it, and he wants it out there.
 
He called this just another game and said it wasn’t one he circled when the schedule came out. From covering Kidd as long as I did, I know he used to look at the schedule, key games, important stretches and things of that nature. This one had to stand out.
 
It’s his first time back to the place where he enjoyed his greatest success, where he led the Nets to back-to-back NBA Finals and essentially went from being a great player to an all-time great player.
 
So let me take a leap of faith here and say this is a big game for Kidd. It’s not as big as some other firsts he experienced here or a playoff game, but it has to have some meaning to him.
 
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe he got all of it out of his system when he talked about playing the Nets for the first time in March, albeit that was in Dallas, and he did at least four different interviews about it.
 
But Kidd is a competitive person, ultra competitive. He knows people are saying the Nets got the better of the deal with the Mavericks because of how well Devin Harris has played. He’s a burgeoning All-Star at 25 and Kidd, at 35, is playing at a high level, but doesn’t have many years left.
 
So this “Nets won” idea, which was brought up to Kidd, probably will add some fire to him. You’ll know if you see his dome cleanly shaven. He always did that before big games. Even if he doesn’t shave, my guess is it’s on.
 
It’s a big one for the Nets. They need a win, badly. They need to establish something at home and need to ride whatever emotions Kidd’s return produces. He’s coming to win – know that. The Nets should do everything to stop it from happening.
 
When Kidd was here and happy, the Nets had a chance to win every night. It wasn’t until he became unhappy; unhappy to the point he didn’t want to be here – because later in his Nets career he was unhappy a lot – that the Nets didn’t have that same chance. But what he did here shouldn’t be forgotten. He hasn’t.
 
“I had a good run in Jersey,” Kidd said.
 
“I think we exhausted every opportunity. We had the two Finals appearances and we made the playoffs every year. We couldn’t get out of the first round a couple times but we seemed to lose to the world champs every time we played somebody in the playoffs.”
 
Kidd did have a great run in Jersey. He made the Nets ma tter for the time he was here and even when he was unhappy because you knew every game you could be covering Kidd’s last game as a Net.

You also knew his departure was going to be the end of something special. That’s why his return is a big game, even if he chooses not to admit it.
 
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J).

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