I remember thinking it was inevitable: Jason Kidd was going to sign with the San Antonio Spurs.
The Nets were going to get Tony Parker back, which was all well and good.
Parker was a nice player. He just wasn’t Kidd.
J-Kidd had meant as much to the Nets’ franchise as Dr. J. Probably more.
In just one season after he was acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Suns, Kidd had changed the culture in Jersey.
The Nets had gone from cringe-worthy to contender.
They had become a team to be reckoned with. A team with an identity. A team with a superstar.
But try as they might, the Nets weren’t good enough. Nor were they lucky.
They ran into Shaq and Kobe’s Lakers and the Duncan, Ginobli and Parker’s Spurs.
No one was going to beat those teams. No one.
So it would’ve made sense for Kidd -- a free agent -- to join forces with Duncan and Ginobli in San Antonio.
And that’s why I remember thinking it was inevitable: Jason Kidd was going to sign with the San Antonio Spurs.
Had he done so, it might not have taken him so darn long to win his first NBA championship.
But Kidd decided on July 24, 2003 that he was going to make it harder for himself.
He was going to remain loyal. He was going to remain a New Jersey Net.
"It would have been easy to go to San Antonio and play with Tim Duncan and those guys," Kidd told the Associated Press that day. "I have some unfinished business, and that is to win a championship in this league and win it as a Net. This is the best chance for me to win a championship."
As it turns out, it wasn’t. The Nets made one last push in Kidd’s first season of his brand-new six-year, $103-million contract.
Once again, though, they ran into another juggernaut: the Detroit Pistons.
Their season ended in the semi-finals. And that was it.
Their core had to be broken up. Kenyon Martin was traded to the Denver Nuggets.
And the Nets haven’t been the same since.
They brought in Vince Carter, but it never worked out.
On Feb. 13, 2008, the Nets and Kidd finally parted ways. Everyone thought New Jersey was getting the better end of the deal that sent Kidd to the Mavericks for Devin Harris.
But when it all came down to it, the Nets were starting over. And Kidd was heading to a place where he had an opportunity to get the thing that had eluded him for entire career: a ring.
It took Kidd three years to get it.
Seventeen seasons, really.
The Nets eventually traded Harris to the Jazz along with several other pieces in order to acquire the player they believe can take their franchise to the same heights that Kidd did: Deron Williams.
And months later, on June 12, 2011, the 38-year-old Kidd got his championship.
At this point, Jason Kidd is no longer a superstar. He might even retire.
But at least he’ll be able to ride off into the sunset knowing that he was different.
He didn’t do the inevitable.
And at the end of the day, he’ll always have the respect of everyone in New Jersey.
Come 2012-13, when the Nets move into their new home in Brooklyn, Jason Kidd’s jersey doesn't just belong in the Hall of Fame.
It also belongs in the Barclay Center rafters
Because he means as much to the franchise as anyone -- even Dr. J himself.