Jason Kidd announced his retirement Monday, but this isn't a day to remember the triple-doubles. God, there were a ton of them. One hundred and seven to be exact. Only Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson had more.
For now, though, let's not focus on the dazzling passes or the game-winning plays Kidd made. Don't even think about the leadership and the way he willed teams to wins.
Nope, now is the time to remember the lasting image from the only championship the Dallas Mavericks have won. It's a snapshot that should live forever in the hearts of every MFFL -- Mavs Fan For Life.
There's Kidd standing next to Dirk Nowitzki. Each is wearing a gray cap with a blue bill and a white T-shirt signifying the Mavs' title. Nowitzki, smiling broadly, is holding the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player trophy. Kidd, as you would expect, is holding the Larry O'Brien trophy.
And that's how it should be.
Kidd was always about the team. And he was always about winning.
Every day of his 19-year career was about the team. Yes, even when he got Byron Scott fired in New Jersey and helped get Avery Johnson -- Nowitzki did the heavy lifting -- fired in Dallas, it really was about making the team better.
"My time in professional basketball has been an incredible journey, but one that must come to an end after 19 years," Kidd said in a statement. "As I reflect on my time with the four teams I represented in the NBA, I look back fondly at every season and thank each and every one of my teammates and coaches that joined me on the court."
Kidd gave a team whatever it needed. Few filled a stat sheet better.
Points. Rebounds. Assists. Whatever was needed on a given night, he could provide it.
Go ahead, name another great player in recent history who averaged just 12.7 points in a 19-year career.
Of course, Kidd also averaged 8.7 assists, 6.3 rebounds and 1.93 steals. We're talking about one of the best to ever play the game, and he never averaged more than 18.7 points per game.
By the time he arrived in Dallas for his second stint in 2008, Kidd was 34. No longer was he the sexy baller who dazzled us early in his career. Instead, he had evolved into a steady player whose intangibles more than compensated for his loss of athleticism. That's why he could effectively guard a player like Kobe Bryant for key stretches in a game.
Kidd relied on guile more than athleticism to make a difference in games, and he was so intelligent that Rick Carlisle let his point guard direct the offense without much interference because he knew Kidd would make the right basketball play.
Kidd also improved his jumper -- which was never better than average -- to make himself a solid weakside jump shooter in the Mavs' championship season.
But what he did best was get the ball to Nowitzki in positions where he could easily exploit defenders. When Kidd passed the ball to Nowitzki, all the 7-footer had to do was shoot it.
To watch Kidd play was to see basketball at its most beautiful -- the grace, the rhythm, the ball movement.
We're talking about a dude who made his teammates want to pass and experience some of the same joy from an assist they used to get from dunking. Or least close to it.
Your Dallas Mavericks don't win a title without Kidd.
He provided intangibles and leadership that made the Mavs rebound quickly from difficult losses, and their execution at the end of games was superb. With Kidd and Nowitzki, the Mavs never panicked, no matter the deficit or the opponent.
Kidd spent last season in New York, changing his mind at the last minute and rejecting a multiyear offer from the Mavs.
Mark Cuban, it seems, is still mad about Kidd's decision. He should get over it.
Kidd did him a favor. He was awful in the playoffs, a liability on the court. The game he loves had finally left him behind.
He needed to retire. It was the final good decision of his career. The next move belongs to Cuban.
Someday, after the anger subsides, Cuban must do the right thing and hang Kidd's jersey from the rafters.
Kidd has earned it.
You can't write the history of the Mavs without a couple of chapters on Kidd. And Cuban wouldn't have a championship ring without one of the best point guards in NBA history wearing a Mavs uniform.