Richard Jefferson: Jason Kidd was my mentor

AP03011704940 (1)For years, the New Jersey Nets were Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson as Kidd lead the team as one of the best point guards in the history of the game and Jefferson was his go-to man. Years later their careers have taken different turns. Jefferson is still in the Association and Kidd is now, obviously, the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets.

With Jefferson, and his Utah Jazz, in town to take on the Nets, he got a chance to speak about his relationship with Kidd and his thoughts on the new coaching gig. There was also some good natured ribbing.

“I made a joke now that he’s the rookie and I’m the vet,” Jefferson said with a laugh “And that’s something, I kind of enjoy that.”

When asked if he thought Kidd would be a good coach, Jefferson gave an honest, non-cliched answer.

“We can make all the assumptions that you want,” Jefferson said. “George Karl won coach of the year and got released last year. So you can be a great coach and the situation might not be right and there’s guys that get multiple opportunities and don’t deserve it. Jason Kidd is a guy that worked extremely hard to show that he deserves that opportunity that’s been given to him. He’s a guy that’s succeeded in every opportunity that’s ever been given to him. So I don’t see why this should be different.”

Jefferson explained the day before that it was an honor to see Kidd’s No. 5 jersey up in the rafters as it is a tribute to that team. However, he clearly realizes that coach Kidd is no gimmick and thinks that he’ll be a great leader.

“I compliment him,” Jefferson said. When they got Jason Kidd and knew they were going to get Jason Kidd, they wanted to put guys around him that complimented the way he played because there was many years when he was the best point guard in the league and possibly the best player in the planet. Not many guys in the history of this league have been able to dominate multiple games without scoring and when he did score it was a bonus. It was almost a given that we were going to a win a game. ”

Jefferson has had a solid career. Now in his 13th year, he has averaged 16.5 points with 5.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists per 36 minutes with an effective field goal percentage of 50.4. Jefferson, he said, gave a lot of the credit to Kidd for helping to make him the player he has been.

“We complimented each other but he was my mentor. He was a guy that I listened to every single word he said for seven years and tried to take in as much as I could. Without him, I probably wouldn’t have played in the league as long as I have.”

Jefferson, now 33, had a rough game against the Nets. He did have one impressive slam dunk, but he shot just 1-of-7 from the floor and was 0-for-4 behind the arc and had a plus/minus of -21. A rough night for sure, but so far his numbers overall have not been terrible. In four games he has 14.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.6 assists per 36 minutes with an eFG% of 40.9. He still has a lot to offer and Kidd said that he’ll he helpful on a Jazz team filled with younger players.

“I think you talk about a good teammate, great teammate,” Kidd said. “He was a rookie and I knew him in Arizona, so seeing his growth as a teammate and as a player, he made the game easy for me. He was always on the right side looking for the ball, so he could get a layup or free throws.

“I’m happy to see he’s still playing at a high level. He’s a veteran now, and he’s been on the successful side, so he can help those young guys over there.”


Video courtesy of The Brooklyn Game/Youtube and the YES Network.