The YES Network is taking votes during tonight’s Mavs/Nets tilt to determine a nickname for Devin Harris, with choices that include “The Poet”, “The Devastator”, “D-Lightning”, “Devo”, and “The Blur” (chosen for Harris’ well known friendship with Alex James). Not on the list of nominees : “The Guy Who Made Everyone Forget About Jason Kidd”. Everyone, that is, except for Nets’ President Rod Thorn, who takes the (very) high, migraine-free road in recalling Kidd’s exploits with the Newark Star-Ledger’s Dave D’Alessandro.
As Thorn saw it, Kidd was the ultimate glue guy — offensively, defensively and spiritually. He proved that a single player can transform the culture of a franchise, maximize a roster’s collective skill level, buoy its spirits and deliver instant success — indeed, by taking one of the most wretched teams in sports and turning it into a conference champion in just eight months.
Bottom line: “He was the catalyst of a team that went from nowhere to somewhere,” Thorn said.
“He not only made the people who played with him better, he made people who worked here better. And I’ve never been around a player who was tougher, as far as playing with injuries. People don’t know it: He had the hole in his knee the size of a silver dollar in 2004, and he played with it the entire playoffs. One game, he played 57 minutes. That injury would have kept most people out for a month.
“But he had an incredible ability to focus and put whatever was going on in his life out of his mind when he got on the court. Very few players can do that. And you don’t forget things like that.”
The flip side is also well known: Like most players, Kidd was a sore loser. He took his subtle shots at Thorn when the roster wasn’t what he thought it should be.
“He wanted to win. He was competitive,” Thorn said. “He was always hopeful that we’d do all we could to get the players around him that would make that possible. Obviously, when we had the players, we had a good run. And we would have beaten Detroit (in 2004) had he been healthy, and who knows what happens after that?”
Corn at Hardwood Paroxysm observered Brandon Roy scoring 52 against the Suns last night and says of the Suns’ Casual Thursday approach to defending, “it’s like Coach D never left.” The New York Post’s Peter Vescey is a tad more specific, saying of PG Steve Nash, “If he knows what’s good for him he will snatch Suns’ security when offered before it dawns on management he’s a budding shadow of the MVP he was two, three seasons ago.”
“Steve used to be able to get around anyone anytime and could pick apart any defense with his passes,” a scout said. “That stopped being the case last year, but it hasn’t stopped him from trying, and the result is often a turnover.”