Sat, Nov 19, 2005 - Page 20 News List

Aging Kidd still battling

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOACIATION Despite the ongoing struggles of the New Jersey Nets, guard Jason Kidd is at peace after seeing the light over in Brooklyn

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY

Jason Kidd finished shooting free throws on Thursday, bent his 32-year-old knees into an imperfect L and lowered himself into a courtside seat at the Nets' practice facility. Veteran legs grow weary when the long road beckons, even in a season that is eight games young.

If Thanksgiving is upon us, it is time for the Nets to make their annual -- and many times painful -- pilgrimage to the West. After a home game on Saturday against Washington, the first of five stops happens to be Oakland, Kidd's hometown, against Golden State on Monday.

"The West is home, yes," he said. "But, you know, we've made a new home here. Kids in school, they have friends. We've settled in. We hope to continue."

Attitudinally, from a year ago, this is the equivalent of Kidd's slickest crossover dribble. He began last season recovering from knee surgery, watching the remains of what had been a two-time NBA finalist stagger through November, stripped of key assets.

The new owner, Bruce C. Ratner, was looking east while the team plunged south and Kidd fantasized an escape west.

He never publicly said as much, but Kidd's misery was unmistakable, and his message came through loud and clear from the mouth of his friend Alonzo Mourning. Mourning eventually complained his way out of New Jersey but gave Kidd a method of coping as a parting gift.

The arrival of Vince Carter no doubt was the crucial element in the Nets' late playoff run last spring, and in Kidd's new faith in Ratner as the owner of an NBA team who intended to compete. But Kidd will tell you that he is more content with life in general, and in the uniform of this star-crossed franchise in particular, because he made the move -- spiritually, that is -- to Brooklyn years before Ratner's proposed arena becomes a reality.

"It'll be a year coming up that Alonzo and his wife, Tracy, invited Joumana and I to a Bible study class," he said. "It turned out that it was something we needed in our lives. More or less, I think it was just meant to be."

Joumana Kidd dragged her husband to a Bible study class conducted in Manhattan by the Reverend A.R. Bernard, and what emerged was a mentoring relationship and membership in Bernard's Christian Cultural Center on Flatlands Avenue in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn. "Jason was reluctant at first," Bernard said in a telephone interview. "But he began to enjoy, and over time he began a transformation of his values, his relationships and his work."

Engaging in some celebrity name-dropping, Bernard said that the Jets' Curtis Martin was a member of his community, as were Starr Jones and Angela Bassett. They and the Kidds are part of a congregation of more than 20,000 that promotes conservative Christian values.

Shrugging off the two-bridge commute from his home in Bergen County, New Jersey, Kidd said he attended almost as regularly as he did team shoot-arounds. "If we're not on the road, I'm there every Sunday," he said. "I even went to an 8 o'clock Mass last season on the day we had a playoff game."

After practice on Thursday, Kidd and the Nets took a bus to Brooklyn to serve an early Thanksgiving meal to needy families at the Christian Cultural Center. Step one in the community-relations phase of Ratner's grand plan was taken.

Religious or not, liberal or conservative, whether you believe the Nets' relocation plan is a cover for Ratner to build apartment buildings or a comprehensive development plan for downtown Brooklyn whose time has come, it would be a dramatic and cool transformation if Kidd really does define success now as something greater than the pursuit of a championship ring.

This story has been viewed 3369 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top