Archive for Saturday, October 20, 2001

Jersey embraces new guard

October 20, 2001

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— As a general manager, Rod Thorn knows his place in NBA history.

He's the man who drafted Michael Jordan with the third pick overall in 1984, and in the process turned the Chicago Bulls into a dynasty.

More than 17 years later, Thorn wants to be known as something else: the man who acquired Jason Kidd from the Phoenix Suns in a blockbuster point guard exchange for Stephon Marbury, and in the process transformed the New Jersey Nets into a contender.

Thorn cautions not to get too carried away with the comparison.

While Kidd has been an All NBA first-team selection the last three years, M.J. might be the game's greatest player.

"I would compare this one to when I was playing in Seattle and we traded a young All-Star guard in Walt Hazzard for Lenny Wilkens," Thorn said of the 1968 trade.

"Lenny was about a year or two older than Jason, a perennial All-Star, and he came to Seattle and I think set the foundation for what Seattle became," Thorn added. "It was an established veteran passer-type point guard for a young, terrifically talented more scoring-type point guard."

Seattle didn't win a championship for 11 years, but the trade helped SuperSonics become a competitive team within three years. Kidd seemingly can do the same thing for Nets, who have missed the playoffs six of seven years.

The 28-year-old, seven-year NBA veteran doesn't score as much as Marbury, but he gets everyone involved in the offense, defends, rebounds and leads as well as anyone in the game.

Last season, he become only the fourth player in league history to lead the NBA in assists (9.8) three straight seasons.

"This is a great challenge, but I'm just a piece of the puzzle here," Kidd said earlier this week. "It's not going to be a one-man show."

Being around the Nets, it's clear that they believe in Kidd especially Keith Van Horn, who is hoping to jump-start his career after a couple of subpar seasons playing with Marbury.

Despite having 38 career triple doubles, Kidd is more of an old-fashioned point guard.

"He looks to pass first, so he is going to get everyone involved," Van Horn said. "There were a lot of times when not everyone on the team felt involved."

"It's going to take time, but being the person I am, I am not going to wait too long," said Kidd, who was the second pick overall when Dallas selected him in the 1994 draft.

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