Jason Kidd has been around forever, but not so long that he can’t remember his first run-in with Michael Jordan.
Actually, it wasn’t a run-in at all.
They were teammates.
The Mavericks resume preseason action Wednesday at Charlotte against the Hornets, owned primarily by Jordan. So Kidd was asked for a story that was suitable for print and it didn’t take long for him to come up with the first time he and Jordan played in a game.
“One of the best stories that I can share is that after being drafted by the Mavs (in 1994), there was a charity game in Chicago at the old stadium before they closed it,” Kidd said Tuesday. “It was a Scottie Pippen charity game. And I thought I was going to be on the team against the Bulls and it turned out to be Michael Jordan and us against Scottie and the Bulls.
“And Mike kind of took that personal and went out there and scored 100 points. And we ended up winning the game. But as a rookie, my first encounter with Michael was being his teammate. And I was excited to have that opportunity to play with the greatest, on his team.”
OK, so the details might have been slightly exaggerated. Jordan had 52 points in what was the last game at the old Chicago Stadium. His team, with Kidd as a young supporting player, won 187-150.
At the end of that game, Jordan kissed the Bulls’ logo at center court and reiterated he was not returning to resume his NBA career. We all know how that turned out. He and the Bulls would reel off three more championships starting in 1996.
But for Kidd, it was a memory he could never forget.
And he was hugely impressed with how Jordan handled the situation after having not played an NBA game for 15 months.
“It was just eye-opening how serious he took that game,” Kidd said. “And I would always remember that, no matter when you play, to consider yourself one of the best, you always go out there and play with the energy and effort that he did that night. And it was incredible.”
Asked how many assists he had to Jordan in that game, Kidd simply said:
Since then, there have been golf games and social meetings, but Jordan became owner of the Hornets in 2010 and Kidd had a hall of fame career of his own to carve out, not to mention winning a championship.
But being there for one night as Jordan’s teammate was something Kidd can tell his grandkids someday.