Fourth and Long

Published 10:20 am Friday, July 6, 2012

Major League Baseball has reached its halfway point of the season. The NFL and Roger Goodell are still suspending Saints players for playing football like…well, football players. London is preparing to host the Olympics which is awesome news for NBC because they haven’t had more than 10 viewers since…the last Olympics.

With a myriad of worthy news it would be easy to miss out on what may seriously be the most impressive sports story of the year. Jason Kidd and Steve Nash are getting new multiyear contracts.

Don’t get me wrong, players get multiyear contracts all the time. None of those players, however are as close to 40 years old as these two guys are.

Should he play until the end of his reported three-year, $9 million contract Jason Kidd will retire (surely he can’t sign again in three years…right?) at the age of 42 as one of the greatest point guards of all time. In an era of scoring point guards Kidd was a visionary…literally.

Kidd’s court vision was second to none. He showed flashed of brilliance as a freshman at Cal, particularly in the NCAA Tournament where he led the Golden Bears past defending national champion Duke in the second round. After a stellar sophomore season Kidd opted to enter the NBA draft and a star was born.

Kidd has made 10 All-Star appearances, twice received Olympic Gold, won one NBA championship, led three teams to the NBA Finals, been selected All-NBA First Team five times and has also earned nine selections on the NBA’s All-Defensive Team.

When you make a list of the greatest point guards of all time you don’t have to have Jason Kidd at the top of your list, but he does have to be in the conversation. Magic Johnson, John Stockton, Oscar Robertson and Clyde Frazier, if those are the only guys most people think are better than you are I would say you are in pretty good company.

Ironically if not for Jason Kidd, Steve Nash would probably be considered one of the best if not the best point guards since Magic Johnson retired.

Nash was also a true point guard, however unlike Kidd he flourished when he showed flash and played aggressive on the offensive end of the court. The South African born Canadian is famous for having bounced a tennis ball around the Santa Clara University campus to improve his dribbling skills. Needless to say, it worked.

Nash can do things with the ball not seen since the days of “Showtime” in Los Angeles (which ironically is where he is set to play next season). His career began and flourished in Phoenix, but not before he was traded to Dallas to team up with Dirk Nowitzki and Michael Finley.

It took the former futball star just three seasons with the Mavericks to make his first NBA All Star appearance and be selected first team All-NBA. He followed that up with a trip to the Western Conference Finals, but Dallas never could seem to get past the Spurs and after failing to do so several times Nash took his talents back to Phoenix.

Nash never won any titles with the Suns, but he did run the most exciting offense in the NBA. On a roster full of youth and athleticism Nash pushed and distributed the ball with flair. He couldn’t defend a guy in a phone booth, but he sure could make his teammates look good. Had he been able to play defense he might be talked about as one of the greatest guards of all time. Dude is still leading the NBA in assists.

Regardless of where they stand all time, both Kidd and Nash will go down as two of the best floor generals of my generation and apparently they aren’t done yet. For a guy feeling older and older by the day I have to admit, that makes me feel good.


David Friedman is a long-time contributor to Roanoke-Chowan Publications. A Bertie High School graduate, he and his wife currently reside in Wilmington. David can be reached via e- mail at