INSITEVIEW- - tom shugart's weblog

Friday, May 17, 2002

Kiddin' Around

A great morning. Hanging out on the sun-swept patio of my neighborhood coffee joint. Swapping stories with a fellow sports fan. We're talking mostly about local product and NBA sensation, Jason Kidd. My café-mate tells me that a friend of his teaches at Kidd's high school and that Kidd was learning-disabled. This seems hard to fathom if you've ever witnessed the brilliant savvy he brings to the floor-generalship of his team, the New Jersey Nets (who have just won a berth in the Conference Finals after twenty years as a perennial loser. They got Kidd on a trade this year. Talk about one person making a difference!)

Anyway, my friend says that his friend is convinced that Jason's inability to focus on anything in school is the same quality that contributes to his amazing vision and ability to see everything that's happening on the court (and in some cases, even before it happens, according to his coach).

Fascinating theory. It wouldn’t be the first case of a handicap turning out to be a special gift.

I had the privilege of first seeing Kidd as a raw high school sophomore. My son Aaron's school was in the same sports league as Jason's. Aaron kept insisting, "You gotta come see this guy." I had learned to be wary of Aaron's over-enthusiasm, but, to keep him happy, I trudged off to the gym, expecting to be bored by a bunch of adolescents chasing a ball around.

What I saw was a revelation! A 15-year old boy with more court vision and understanding of the game than the two coaches combined. There was no doubt in my mind that I was looking at a future professional. There's a special thrill in seeing raw talent so early on. The only other time I had had a comparable experience was back in high school when, as sports editor of the school paper, I assigned myself to cover the state basketball finals and got to see the legendary Oscar Robertson.

Jason Kidd has surpassed my expectations. It was easy to predict that he'd make the pros. What I didn't foresee was that, as he has proven in the playoffs so far, he has the heart and the will and the transcendent power--if not the shooting skill-of a Michael Jordan.

Jason, your hometown fans are proud of you!


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