Kidd Meets Adversary Marbury in Playoffs
The careers of Stephon Marbury and Jason Kidd are entwined. They are both considered among the top point guards in the league and were once traded for each other.
But that’s where the similarities end for two players about to meet in the playoffs with the Knicks and Nets.
They have entirely different styles of play, and they have not achieved the same level of success.
Marbury is a scorer first and a passer second, though he’s no slouch at the latter. The only player in the NBA to average more assists than Marbury’s 8.9 was Kidd, who led the league with 9.2 a game.
Kidd is the better rebounder, Marbury the better outside shooter.
Kidd, who came to New Jersey in a trade for Marbury, has made the Nets the best team in the East ever since he arrived. Marbury is well aware of that fact, and this is his chance to get a measure of revenge.
“You can just look off their track records, look what they’ve accomplished in their careers,” Nets forward Richard Jefferson said Friday on the eve of New Jersey-New York opening-round playoff series.
Jefferson went on to point out the highlights of Kidd’s resume: the five-time NBA leader in assists, seven All-Star appearances, five all-defensive team selections, four All-NBA first team selections.
“Look at the paper trail and see who’s done what over the course of their careers,” Jefferson said.
The paper trail shows Marbury is a two-time All-Star who was twice selected for the All-NBA third team. He has reached the playoffs three times, twice with Minnesota and once with Phoenix, and lost in the first round each time.
When Marbury and Kidd were traded for each other in the summer of 2001, Nets president Rod Thorn was happy to upgrade from a great talent to a superstar.
Kidd led the Nets to the NBA Finals in his first two seasons, while Marbury’s two-plus season stint in Phoenix ended when he was traded in midseason to New York.
He and Kidd have not faced each other since Marbury was traded to New York, although they played earlier this season at the Meadowlands on the night of a snowstorm. A sparse crowd saw the last of Marbury’s five turnovers lead to a dunk by Jefferson that cemented the Nets’ 99-88 victory over Phoenix.
Kidd and Marbury have been respectful of each other in their public comments leading up to this series, and Kidd described a cordial relationship.
“When we got traded I talked to Steph and told him what to expect in Phoenix. At All-Star games and stuff, we talk,” said Kidd, who would not offer his opinion on whether this series might mean something extra to Marbury.
“You’d have to ask him. I’m not his publicist. The big thing is he’s going to be ready to play. He’s the leader of that team,” Kidd said. “His being traded to New York, coming back home and helping the Knicks get to the playoffs was a big success.”
Despite playing the same position, Kidd and Marbury hardly play the same game.
Marbury tends to create opportunities for teammates by breaking down defenses and drawing extra defenders. Kidd is more likely to find teammates with long passes, whether in transition or in a Nets’ offense geared toward creating baskets off backdoor cuts.
“Jason is a warrior. He’s like the ultimate point guard -- the guy who makes everybody better with the way he plays,” Marbury said. “He can control the game without scoring. I’ve got to play the way I know how to play.”
The Nets defeated the Knicks in three of four games during the regular season, Marbury and Jefferson engaging in a verbal spat in the final game when the Nets beat New York by 25 points despite playing without Kidd and Kenyon Martin.
Both teams have played down the rivalry, although Dikembe Mutombo -- who spent last season with New Jersey and this season with the Knicks -- said his former teammates always seemed to get more pumped up when a certain team came across the Hudson River.
Marbury has been dismissive about questions regarding his time in New Jersey and whether he has extra motivation to prove something to the franchise that gave up on him.
The Nets have won 12 of the last 14 games between the teams, but none of those featured a Kidd-Marbury showdown.
This one will.
“It’s the second season, the first season is over with,” Marbury said. “Everyone’s zero-zero.”