When Kidd was playing college ball at the University of California, that’s when he went up against Nash – who was playing at Santa Clara – for the first time. Fast forward a few years, and Kidd and Nash wound up as teammates with the Phoenix Suns from 1997-98.
And fast-forward 20 years later, and Kidd and Nash were both enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on the same day in 2018.
“We go way back,” Kidd said of Nash. “He’s a great human being. He loves the game of football, which is soccer.”
Kidd and Nash are two of the greatest point guards in the 75-year history of the NBA. Kidd was elected to 10 All-Star teams (two with the Mavericks), and also led the league in assists five times.
Nash was chosen to eight All-Star teams, including two with the Mavs in 2002 and ’03. He also led the league in assists in 2005, ’06, ‘07, ’10 and ’11.
And as fate would have it, both Kidd and Nash nabbed head coaching positions in the NBA without any prior coaching on their resume.
Kidd finished his stellar playing career with the New York Knicks in 2013, and less than two months later he went across town and became the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets. Nash finished his spectacular playing career in 2015, and last year became the head coach of the Nets.
Nash treasured the time he played with Kidd, which occurred during Nash’s rookie season with the Suns.
“It was a great learning opportunity for me,” Nash said. “He was so advanced for a young point guard like me. I think he was only a year older than me, but he was physically more mature.
“I think he’d been kind of the guy since he was a young teen, so to have that mentality and that responsibility at a young age, he was more advanced than I was as far as his mentality on those things. So, to watch him up close and see the competitive nature and spirit, just all the things he brought to the table — outside of points and assists and rebounds — was really important to my development.”
And with that development, Nash eventually became the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2005 and ’06, and some of that knowledge coming from what he learned from watching Kidd. And the two later reminisced about the good old days during the week of their Hall of Fame ceremonies.
“We got some time together around the Hall of Fame while being inducted together,” Nash said. “We go back to playing against each other in college, and then he went to the NBA, and me getting a chance to work out with him when I was still in college.
“Obviously he got traded to the Suns my rookie year, so we played together for a period of time and we just always had a good relationship. I really enjoyed all the times when we did get together.”
“He’s done great as a head coach, and I’m happy for what he’s done,” Kidd said. “He’s great for the game of basketball.”
Nash now has the job Kidd once had. And Kidd recalls when the Nets agreed to anoint him (Kidd) as their head coach.
“It was incredible, it was great,” Kidd said. “To be able to coach Hall of Famers and future Hall of Famers, it was a great experience.
“And even though with the slow start – I only won 10 games before the new year – to finish out winning (44) games and making it to the second round (of the playoffs) and eventually losing to Miami, it was a great experience.”
Especially since Kidd was a quasi-coach on the court when he helped the Mavs capture the 2011 NBA title.
“I think to be able to be around those type players that I have respect, just playing against those guys – Deron (Williams) and Joe Johnson – to help put those guys in a position to be successful was new because I didn’t have the ball in my hand,” Kidd said. “It was about communicating.
“But it was a lesson learned. It was a great lesson, and I learned from it, but I had a great time.”
Ironically, coaching was not a topic of conversation discussed between Kidd and Nash back in the day.
“We never really talked about coaching,” Nash said. “I think we had so many common experiences as players that whenever we talked it really was more about the good old days in a sense, and all the people we have in common and all that stuff.
“We never had the time to really speak about coaching. But it’ll be fascinating to hear his experiences some day.”
NASH PROUD OF NOWITZKI: Nets coach Steve said he’s very proud that the Mavs will retire Dirk Nowitzki’s No. 41 jersey during a ceremony prior to the Jan. 5 game against the Golden State Warriors.
Nash and Nowitzki are very close friend. Nash said: “I saw him yesterday and today.”
With tongue planted firmly in cheek, Nash said of Nowitzki getting his jersey retired: “I’m kind of tired of all the accolades, to be honest. He’s got a street (named after him), a key to the city, a day. He’s got a school or something.”
Nash then got serious and said: “Well deserved, obviously. And I’m really proud of him.”
BRIEFLY: Brooklyn coach Steve Nash was asked about Mavs coach Jason Kidd helping his team dig out of a hole which has been the Mavs lose eight of their last 10 games after Tuesday’s 102-99 loss to the Nets. Nash pointed not only to Kidd’s one year coaching the Nets from 2013-‘14, but also to his job as the head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks from 20214-’18. “He’s done it before,” Nash said. “He’s been a head coach twice. So I should be asking him for advice. That’s what this league is. It’s about continuing to persevere when things aren’t going as expected. Everyone has bad periods of play as a group. Your health or chemistry or the biorhythms of a team. It’s never going to be straight forward, it’s never one plus one is two. It’s always going to be a puzzle. You go through patches where you just have to persevere and you have to trust and work with your group. I know he’ll be fine. He’s been through this as a player and as a coach dozens of times, and this is nothing new that he has fought himself out of dozens of times.”. .Guard Sterling Brown missed Tuesday’s game with left foot soreness, and center Willie Cauley-Stein sat out his fifth consecutive game due to personal reasons. . .Nets coach Steve Nash played for the Mavs from 1998-‘04, arriving via a trade on the exact same day on June 24, 1998 that the Mavs made that dramatic draft day trade with the Milwaukee Bucks to acquire Dirk Nowitzki. . . . From Derek Harper to Jason Kidd to Steve Nash to Luka Doncic, Nash responded to the list of very talented point guards who have played for the Mavs. “It’s been a great history and tradition here,” Nash said. “Lots of great point guards and lots of exciting teams. So it’s, I think, fitting that the Mavs got a combination of Dirk and a point guard (in Doncic) to lead this team forward.” Expanding on Doncic, Nash said: “He’s one of the hardest guys in the league to defend. He can do it all – all three levels. Can get to his spot, can make his shots, can make others better, can be bigger, can be more agile, can be quicker in certain matchups. So you add it all up and it’s an incredible mix and a lot of talent.”