Big men have played until they turned 40 in the NBA — Shaquille O’Neal wants to do it now, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Robert Parish have done it among a number of others.
With guards, that’s much harder. Michael Jordan played until he was 39 and you notice that Washington Wizards Jordan didn’t end up in the new NBA 2K11. With good reason. John Stockton got there, but he was an exception to the rule of guards’ skills dropping off the table in their mid-30s.
Jason Kidd told FanHouse he wants to play until he is 40. No, that did not happen two years ago like you thought, he is just about to turn 38. Which means two more seasons after this one.
“I would love to follow in those footsteps,” Kidd said in an interview with FanHouse about being as effective at that age as Stockton, who averaged 13.8 points in the season he hit 40 and 10.8 and 7.8 assists in his final season of 2002-03 after turning 41. “He’s the best. If I could come close to doing what he did at his age, I would be very happy.”
Kidd is still effective on the offensive end — he has a PER of 17.2 last season — because he’s become more efficient. He has taught himself how to knock down the three (he shot below 30 percent in 2001, 42 percent last season) and turns the ball over less than he did during his late 20s, when he was leading the Nets to the NBA finals. The Mavericks need that scoring.
But more than that — right now the Mavericks need his mind. They have guys like Jason Terry and Shawn Marion who can still score but cannot create their own shots like they used to. Kidd is the guy who can get them the ball in spots where they can score other than some simple wing isolation that they are no longer good at.
The mind will still be there when he is 40. The question is will his body allow him to keep playing this well? The most important guy — the guy that signs the checks — thinks so.
“I don’t see why not,” [Mavericks owner Mark] Cuban said of Kidd playing into his 40s. “It’s not like he’s a high-flyer and he’s losing his (leaping ability). He’s got a very special skill and he knows how to use it. He gets smarter and his hands are just as quick. His shooting has improved dramatically. … So he continues to add weapons. … He’s just a genetic freak.”