NEW YORK >> Jason Kidd retired today from the NBA after 19 seasons, ending one of the greatest careers for a point guard in league history.
Kidd won an NBA title and two Olympic gold medals, is second on the career list in assists and steals, and was a 10-time All-Star. But he struggled badly in the playoffs for the Knicks shortly after turning 40 and decided to walk away with two years and more than $6 million left on the deal he signed last summer.
“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 released by the Knicks. “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 every one of my teammates and coaches that joined me on the court.”
His retirement comes two days after fellow 40-year-old Grant Hill, with whom Kidd shared Rookie of the Year honors in 1995, announced his retirement.
Kidd went on from there to have big impacts on every team he joined. He led the longtime-losing Nets to two NBA Finals in 2002-03, helped the Dallas Mavericks win the 2011 title, and was on the first Knicks team to reach the second round of the playoffs since 2000.
He averaged 12.6 points, 8.7 assists, 6.3 rebounds and 1.93 steals in a career that also included a stop in Phoenix. Kidd had numerous ways to make his mark on games, ranking third on the career list with 107 triple-doubles while finishing third all-time in 3-pointers made, despite being considered a poor outside shooter when he came into the league.
Dirk Nowitzki, who played with Kidd on the Mavs’ title team, wrote on Twitter that Kidd was “one of the best point guards ever and one of the fiercest competitors I have ever played with.”
“Amazing career,” Nowitzki wrote. “He always put the team and winning first. All the best to him in retirement.”
The Knicks signed Kidd away from Dallas last summer with a three-year deal, and he helped them flourish with a lineup that often featured two point guards. They won 54 games and their first Atlantic Division title since 1994, which was just before Kidd was drafted by Dallas with the No. 2 overall pick.
“Jason’s value to the Knicks and the National Basketball Association cannot be quantified by statistics alone,” Knicks general manager Glen Grunwald said. “Everyone here in New York saw firsthand what a tremendous competitor he is and why Jason is considered to be one of the best point guards, and leaders, the game has ever seen.”
He got off to a rocky start with the Knicks, arrested on a drunken-driving charge shortly after signing last July — Kidd was also arrested on a domestic violence charge while playing with Phoenix in 2001, acknowledging he struck his former wife — but he turned out to be the leader the team sought.
He averaged 6.0 points, 3.3 assists and 4.3 rebounds in 76 games for the Knicks but lost his likely Hall of Fame-bound game in the postseason. He missed all 17 shots across the final 10 games and finished 3 of 25 from the field, seeing limited minutes in the last two games of the Knicks’ loss to Indiana in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
“Veteran leadership on and off the court was a huge factor for our team that recorded 54 victories and an Atlantic Division crown,” coach Mike Woodson said. “Jason provided an incredible voice inside our locker room and I considered it an honor to say I coached him.”
Grunwald had said he expected Kidd to return, though Woodson said things could always change.
Kidd becomes the second player on an aged Knicks roster to retire, following Rasheed Wallace’s decision in April. Kurt Thomas, nearly six months older than Kidd, broke his foot late in the season, and his status is unclear.
Kidd was a five-time selection to the All-NBA first team and was voted to the All-Defensive first or second team nine times.
Phoenix traded him to New Jersey after his legal troubles, and he would go on to lead the Nets to their greatest NBA success. The 6-foot-4 guard is the team’s career leader in most playoff categories.
“Jason Kidd was the captain of the Nets during their most successful period in the NBA, and is considered the greatest player in the Nets’ NBA history. On behalf of the entire Brooklyn Nets organization, we congratulate him on his Hall of Fame career,” general manager Billy King said.
Along with his NBA greatness, Kidd had an undefeated career at the senior international level. He helped the U.S. win gold in the 2000 and ‘08 Olympics, along with FIBA Americas titles in 1999, 2003 and ‘07. The Americans didn’t win any of the three major international events without him during that time.
Respected around the league, Kidd won the NBA’s sportsmanship award this season, becoming the first player to win it in consecutive seasons.