It’s rare that any pro athlete reaches his 40th birthday while still active in his or her sport. Jason Kidd was one of the few.
The four decade old point guard retired from the NBA yesterday, with his last shining moment in the league coming against the Celtics in Game 1 of a quarterfinal series against the Knicks. Kidd made the key play of the game for New York, deflecting a Jeff Green pass with just over two minutes remaining in regulation. He dove to beat the 26-year-old Green for the ball, and succeeded. He finished with eight points, five rebounds and three steals to give New York the win.
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Kidd was just one of a prideful handful of players born in the early-to-mid 1970s contributing to an NBA playoff team this spring.
Thirty-seven-year-old Tim Duncan is resting his old bones right now in anticipation of Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday. Duncan has scored in double-figures in all but one of 14 San Antonio playoff games this spring and he has grabbed 10 rebounds or more in seven of the 14.
Thirty-seven-year-old Ray Allen had recorded three 20-plus point games in this year’s postseason heading into Miami’s Game 7 showdown with Indiana Monday.
Most contenders for the NBA title would rather not have their “go-to-guy” be someone who was in pre-school when the first Star Wars movie was released (no, not the digitally remastered version). Duncan often defers to 31-year-old Tony Parker, 21-year-old Kawhi Leonard and 25-year-old Danny Green. Allen defers to that 28-year-old LeBron guy. Kidd dished off to 29-year-old Carmelo Anthony.
Just one year ago, then 26-year-old Rajon Rondo helped his Generation X Celtics teammates Kevin Garnett (then 36) and Paul Pierce (then 34) reach Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Still, it’s clear that experience counts for something in today’s NBA. With most of the league attempting to get younger in each June’s draft, it’s the mid-’90s draftees that are routinely playing late into the month.