There have been plenty of great basketball players to come through Northern California but maybe none as great as Jason Kidd.
“He’s the Bay Area’s version of Michael Jordan. We’ve had some good basketball players in the Bay Area but I think the kids really attach to him because of his personality. He’s always good with kids. Some superstars are kind of gruff. He’s just a kid, he just likes being around kids and they gravitate to him because he gives them time. He never turns his back on anybody. He’s one of the superstars from the Bay Area that out of all the kids who come through here, I would say Jason is the best two to three players to ever come through the Bay Area,” Kidd’s high school coach, Gordie Johnson, said.
Kidd grew up in Oakland and immediately began to turn heads on the basketball court.
He decided to play his high school ball at nearby St. Joseph’s where he won two state championships and became the top high school prospect in the entire country.
“You seen him in the ninth grade year but in the tenth grade, you could start to see that he was at a different level than most kids that you’ve ever seen. I’ve seen some good point guards and good players but his strength of understanding the game was just uncanny,” Johnson said.
Kidd could’ve gone anywhere he wanted to play in college.
The blue bloods all came calling — Kentucky, Kansas, Arizona.
All were hoping to get Kidd to be their starting point guard from day one but he opted to stay home and attend Cal Berkeley, a team that was coming off of a losing record.
“When it all came down to it, he just wanted to be close to home. Plus the head coach of our team at the time was Frank LaPorte and him and Frank had a great rapport and he wanted Frank to be able to attend games and see him play as well,” Johnson said.
Kidd went on to win the National Freshman of the Year in his first season at Berkeley.
As a sophomore, he was a first-team all-American and won PAC 10 Player of the Year.
And probably most importantly, he got the Bears back to the NCAA Tournament.
He would declare for the NBA Draft and was selected second overall.
The rest was history — Jason Kidd would play 19 years in the association and retire as one of the best point guards to ever pick up a basketball.
In addition to an NBA Hall of Famer, Kidd is now a Bay Area Sports Hall of Famer — An honor that he holds in high esteem.
And it was only natural that he asked one of his coaches and oldest mentors to be the one to the one to help immortalize him.
“It was shocking. I wasn’t aware that the whole situation was coming about and then for him to call Jen and then Jen sent me a letter saying Jason is going to the Hall of Fame and he wants you to be the presenter. I said wow. It just speaks to our relationship and is just an honor for me to be the person who is going to be introducing him and being the person who is going to speak on him,” Johnson said.
All Hall of Fame inductees will be honored this Thursday, May 2. Kidd will be honored alongside Dave Dravecky, Brad Gilbert, Keena Turner, and Tara VanDerveer.
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