19 points, 16 rebounds, 17 assists.
Calling it a triple-double just doesn't do it justice.
Since the 1986-87 season -- when Basketball-Reference.com's box score database begins -- Jason Kidd's triple-Montana in Friday's 111-103 OT win over Atlanta is only the third of its kind. Magic Johnson predictably had one of them -- his was actually a triple-Winger -- in a 142-118 win over Denver on April 18, 1989, scoring 24 points with 17 rebounds and 17 assists.
Wanna guess who owns the other one? It's Jason Kidd. From 1996.
In that 105-101 win over the Clippers, a 22-year-old Kidd played all 48 minutes in posting a 21-16-16 line. But what he did against the Hawks, less than a month from his 37th birthday, is unprecedented.
There have now been 41 triple-doubles by players 34 and older; Kidd has nearly half of them with 19. Of the 14 triple-doubles by players 35 or older, five belong to Kidd. However, only one of the other 35-plussers had as many as 12 in each category: Larry Bird's inconceivable 49-14-12 against Portland in 1992.
Forgetting about age, Kidd now owns the only 15-rebound, 15-assist, 3-or-fewer-turnover game in the B-R.com era. The only one. In fact, the rest of the NBA has only four 14-rebound, 14-assist, 3-or-fewer-turnover games in that span, by Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Grant Hill, and LeBron James, and all but Jordan -- who did it in a remarkable 30 minutes -- needed at least 48 minutes of playing time to accomplish the feat. Kidd, meanwhile, has four all by himself, and has required just 44, 42, 38, and 46 minutes to do it.
So I think you can see where I'm going with this: Jason Kidd is better than MJ, Bird, Hill, and LeBron combined.
While a student at Cal, I was lucky enough to witness the Jason Kidd era in its entirety.* The guy was just unbelievable with the basketball in his hands. The astounding array of assists was unlike anything I'd ever seen. Three-quarter-court bounce passes with crazy english on them... Oddly angled lobs on the fast break... No-look behind-the-backs threaded between two guys... His court vision was otherworldly, and he played the game on an entirely different level from anyone else out there. I was also lucky enough to watch him in the cathedral that was Harmon Gym. Going to a college basketball game is just so superior the NBA experience, and Harmon was one of the places to see a game. Tiny and cramped, and louder than shit.
* Incidentally, Kidd and I both dropped out of school following the 1994 basketball season. He left to make literally hundreds of millions of dollars playing in the NBA, while I, uh ...
During Kidd's first season (my sophomore year), he got the coach fired; led the nation in steals with an NCAA freshman-record 110; established single-season school records for steals and assists; led the team to just its second NCAA Tournament bid in 33 years; hit a crazy, contested, last-second pretzel shot to beat LSU in the first round; and knocked out two-time defending National Champion Duke to advance to the Sweet 16 (where the team lost to Kansas).
The next season, Kidd was just as brilliant, leading the nation in assists while breaking his own school record, earning first-team All-American honors, and becoming the first sophomore ever to be named Pac-10 Player of the Year. Unfortunately, the team battled injuries all year long and bricked its way out of the NCAA Tournament in the first round, after which Kidd bolted.
As did I, though I would return 12 years later to complete my degree. I suppose that brings the score to Jason Kidd $165,853,968; me 1.
Kidd's NBA career, which sometimes gets downgraded because of the lack of a title, has been both steady and spectacular. He now has the second-most assists (10,742) in league history and the fifth-most steals, where he is just one away from tying Maurice Cheeks for fourth. Now in his 16th NBA season, Kidd is still averaging nearly two steals per game; if he maintains that pace, he'll likely move into second place by the end of next season.
He's also now played the 13th-most minutes all-time, and his 37.13 MPG are almost identical to renowned ironman Karl Malone's 37.16. And Kidd has used those minutes like no other guard before him, pulling down 7,721 rebounds, more than Alonzo Mourning, Kevin McHale, Wayne Embry, and Sam Perkins.
And for all the _ason Kidd jokes -- you know, He's got no J. Hilarious! -- do you realize that Kidd is now fifth all-time in 3-pointers made? Fifth! Now granted he's taken a high volume of 3s, and his career percentage (.347) is only 196th; still, that's higher than Kobe Bryant (.341), Sam Cassell (.331), Rip Hamilton (.343), and Robert Horry (.341). Additionally, Kidd's scored over 15,000 points, more than Bill Russell, Shawn Kemp, Dennis Johnson or Tim Hardaway.
Who's tired of statistics?
Fine, we'll move on to more statistics. Please take a gander at this here chart:
|Last before||First with||Change||Last with||First after||Dropoff|
All are records for the first full season before/after Kidd's arrival/departure. And the improvement that Kidd apparently brings to each of his teams -- which, combined with the above-mentioned statistics, makes him one of the five greatest point guards of all time -- is probably the biggest reason Mark Cuban decided to roll the dice and re-acquire Kidd in a deal centered around Devin Harris.
The move was not well-received.
Nor did it payoff in terms of regular season record. In 2006-07, the Mavs won 67 games. In 2008-09, they won just 51. Plus Harris blossomed in New Jersey, earning an All-Star berth while Kidd was outscored 115 NBA players, including a T.J. (Ford), an O.J. (Mayo), a D.J. (Augustin) and a pair of C.J.'s (Watson and Miles). At that point, the (ahem) initial impressions seemed to be correct.
However, in last year's playoffs, the Mavs broke through to win their first series since the devastating loss to Bennett Salvatore, Joe DeRosa, and the rest of the NBA's officials in the 2006 Finals. So was that enough to swing the trade back in the Mavs favor?
Although there was some additional salary-cap flotsam, the deal essentially boiled down to Kidd for Harris, $3 million, and first-round picks in 2008 and 2010. The '08 pick turned into Ryan Anderson -- who, coincidentally, played at Cal during my second go-round on campus -- and while Anderson is a very solid rotation player, the Nets already essentially gave him away to Orlando. The second pick will likely be in the high-20s, where you're lucky to get a player the caliber of Taj Gibson.
Meanwhile, Harris has taken a major step back this year as Kidd is putting together his best season in four years. In fact, Kidd actually leads Harris in PER (Player Efficiency Rating) 17.79 to 16.59. Kidd has also been healthy -- that's really Harris' bugaboo -- and has thus played nearly 700 more minutes, so that his Value Added (213.4, the eighth-best among point guards) is nearly twice that of Harris (117.7).
Since the deal was made, Harris has a huge edge in PPG, nearly doubling Kidd, 18.8 to 9.5. But look at the rest of the numbers:
The field goal and free throw percentages are nearly identical. Everything else except for free throw attempts per game is heavily in Kidd's favor. Is it enough to offset Harris' advantage in scoring?
I guess that depends on what you like. Still, you can have the guy who's won four times in 41 games this season; I'll take the one who's won everywhere he's been, mostly because he makes plays like this.
And no, I'm not biased. What in the world would ever give you that impression?