Hear how the Hall of Fame point guard is giving back to the women’s game, from tournament travel to college scholarships.
At NBA Media Day, Jason Kidd approached the press in a backward hat and translucent glasses.
Flying from Dallas to Abu Dhabi on a preseason run that sees the Mavericks matched up with Anthony Edwards and Real Madrid alike, the All-Star point guard-turned-head coach has plenty to look forward to this season with Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving returning.
Still, after all these years, one has to wonder: Does Jason Kidd have eyes in the back of his head?
Over the course of his Hall of Fame playing career, Kidd dazzled fans by dropping dimes behind his back and throwing lobs just left of the shot clock. It was as if he could always see what was happening next or behind him, even if it appeared he was looking in a different direction.
Such is the case for his passion project, Jason Kidd Select.
Servicing high school talent in his home of Oakland and up the Pacific Northwest, Kidd’s AAU outfit has flown teams all over the country and helped girls grab scholarships at all levels of college play. It’s a long-view approach to winning at hoops and in life, regardless if a WNBA career is in the cards.
“We try to give them the opportunities on and off the floor to be successful,” Kidd told Boardroom. “Relationships are big. We try to help them understand that at a young age because you might meet someone now that you can do business with later.”
“To be able to play there? Those are things we wish we had growing up, to be on that stage,” Kidd said. “The relationship with Nike is very important. You need something that you trust, and Nike was a big partner of mine.”
And to his credit, you need someone like Kidd. In the AAU landscape, many active NBA players now have prep programs tied to their shoe sponsor, often in the boy’s game.
Per usual, Kidd saw something different; even as his eyes appeared focused elsewhere. From 2019 to 2021, Kidd coached as an assistant for the Los Angeles Lakers.
During that tenure, he saw how the girl’s game could grow given the right opportunities.
“Watching Kobe and Gigi? I thought it was an incredible light that he put on women’s sports watching from afar,” Kidd said. “After the unfortunate accident, I thought, how can I help continue that light and attention?”
The answer was waiting right behind him, just shy of six hours north on I-5.
“To be able to create a team in the Bay Area, a team of young ladies,” said Kidd. “To fulfill their journey and their goal. Not just Division 1, but Division 2 and 3 scholarships to continue their play and their education.”
Since starting in 2021, Kidd Select has helped 100 girls each year. Even more impressive? A hundred percent of the girls have gone on to Division 1, 2, or 3 programs.
This summer’s stop at the World Basketball Festival in New York proved both the pinnacle and just the start. With Kidd’s U17 team having just won the Select 40-Circuit National Championship, the prodigal point guard surprised his girls with championship rings.
It’s an act of gift-giving that means much to today’s talent. For Kidd, growing up in California, the amateur circuit was much different.
As a youth, Kidd cites Gary Payton and The Glove’s father as formidable figures in his development. He recalls Tanda Rucker giving him buckets in the California Youth League and the likes of Brian Shaw shaping his game. Most of these moments took place in Oakland with little exposure to out-of-state talent in sight.
Still, as a five-star stud in high school, basketball took Kidd places even as a teenager. Even so, it doesn’t compare to where travel ball takes kids today.
“It wasn’t like today’s AAU,” said Kidd. “Vegas and the Boo Williams Invitational were the two highlights of the summer. But today? With so many tournaments across the country, you have the opportunity to play in New York, Indiana, or Kentucky on any given weekend. It’s incredible and so different than when I was growing up.”
Perhaps it’s even more incredible where he sees it going.
“Eventually, you’ll start seeing teams go play in Asia or Europe at a young age,” Kidd said.
As Kidd himself travels abroad for the Dallas Mavericks’ preseason stretch, he’s well aware of the global game basketball has become.
Serving as the floor general for the 2008 Redeem Team in Beijing, Kidd has always practiced an unselfish form of basketball but never preached against evolution. As an NBA head coach in 2023 and leader of young women from a travel team standpoint, the man with uncanny court vision still sees a world where shifting styles can coexist.
“AAU can get a bad rep at times,” Kidd noted. “But the game has changed. Kids can do things a lot earlier when you talk about 11-year-olds being able to play the game the right way. We always talk about making the extra pass and how we can make the game easy for one another.”
With girls from Kidd Select spanning D1 programs from Washington to Florida State, the talk is clearly the walk.
“That’s what the young ladies do,” said Kidd. “It’s a beautiful game to watch. But AAU shouldn’t get a bad rep. The game has changed with more 3s and more one-on-one. But those are things that come with change. They’re playing the game at a high level a lot younger than we did.”
It says a lot for the man most known for filling stat sheets in the assist column and caring less about iso step-backs or drilling deep balls.
Maybe it’s because neither the girls growing from Kidd Select nor the founder with eyes in the back of his head are looking behind.
“They don’t believe I did play unless I show them a video,” Kidd said with a laugh. “But the parents I can relate to because they’re closer to my age and probably saw me in the Bay Area or the NBA. The big thing is parents want to put their kids in the right situation to be successful, and that’s what we try to do with Kidd Select.”
Perhaps looking back to the girls in The Bay is Jason Kidd seeing what’s ahead just the same.
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