Led by the brilliant multi-time All-Star point guard Jason Kidd, the New Jersey Nets made it to the NBA Finals in two consecutive seasons. And that remains the franchise’s best achievement to this day.
With Kidd as the court general, the rest of the then-Nets squad became productive, especially on the offensive end. Among them was Kidd’s backcourt partner, Kerry Kittles.
Prior to Kidd’s arrival, the Nets were already soaring. Alongside Sam Cassell, Jayson Williams, and Keith Van Horn, Kittles and the Nets dramatically improved from winning only 16 games in the 1998-99 season to 31 in 1999-00. However, Kittles admitted that the addition of Kidd brought a different kind of “excitement around the team,” and, more importantly, teamwork.
“We got an interesting group of guys and Jason Kidd was facilitating, running the show. It was fun. There was a lot of excitement around the team,” Kittles told NBA.com in a Q&A in 2019.”…From day one, we were going to do it together. I think the offense always emphasized team chemistry and ball movement and playing off each other. We didn’t score off one-on-one. It was not iso basketball.”
Beautiful chemistry in New Jersey
Kittles was coming off a season-long injury when he played his first season with Kidd. Stats won’t show J-Kidd’s impact on Kittles, as he logged identical numbers from his last season. However, Kittles is certain there was beautiful chemistry between them in the backcourt.
“We really complemented each other well,” Kittles said of Kidd. “And on both sides of the ball. Back then there was a lot of defense and we really turned defense into offense. The minute the possession changed over, he and I were in sync and we were gone. He knew when I was spotting up and he knew when I was filling the lanes. I didn’t have to put my hand up or call for the ball. He said, ‘I know where you’ll be and I’ll find you.’ He had this really uncanny ability of taking a quick snapshot of the possession as soon as it started. He knew where his guys were and he knew where the defense was going to go.”
After failing to win the chip in their two trips to the NBA Finals, Kittles played all 82 games for the Nets the following season, but it happened to be his last with New Jersey. Still, Kittles is happy to have played with a spectacular player like Kidd and at one point, become part of a dominant team.