They lost both, but Kidd arrived to New Jersey highly respected for turning around a franchise with no real identity.
Antoine Walker knows a thing or two about that.
The duo of Walker and Paul Pierce and blossomed during the 2001-02 season when the Jim O’Brien led-team boasted a 49-33 record and made their first NBA Playoffs appearance in seven years. Walker’s stat sheet was amazing 22.0 points and 5 assists per contest.
The Celtics made it all the way to the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals, but would eventually lose in six games to a talented Nets team that was guided by Byron Scott and featured Jason Kidd, Kenyon Martin, Keith Van Horn and Richard Jefferson.
“We just caught Jason Kidd in his prime man,” recounted Antoine Walker.
“We couldn’t match up. And no offense to Kenny [Anderson] and Kenny’s my man but, Kidd was unbelievable for a couple of years. Those two years they went to the Finals. I don’t think there was any better point guard in the game better than Jason Kidd. Those two years when they went to the NBA Finals back-to-back; see people don’t understand we get ‘em in the Eastern Conference Finals we’re up 2-1, then we come back the following year and they sweep us in the second round but, those were epic battles man; we played that team probably like 30 times in two years it seemed like but, we couldn’t get past them. They were deep you know; Jason, Kerry Kittles, Keith Van Horn, Lucious Harris, Aaron Williams…they were loaded man, but they had our number for some reason. It was one of things that they had our number when it counted.”
Shortly after retiring from basketball as a player, Kidd was named head coach of the Nets, in 2013, replacing interim coach P.J. Carlesimo.
Kidd lasted one season and guided a Nets team that had Deron Williams, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to a 44-38 record.
While in Brooklyn, Kidd got results. The Hall of Famer guided the Nets to an Eastern Conference semifinals appearance against the Big Three-era Miami Heat with Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh. The Heat beat the Nets in five games and advanced to the NBA Finals where they’d lose to the San Antonio Spurs.
While on the Heavy Live With Scoop B Show, Antoine Walker insists that Kenyon Martin more than held his own in the NBA Playoffs!
“I always tell people that Kenyon Martin was probably the toughest guy that I went up against,” said Walker while on Heavy Live With Scoop B.
“Because of my skillset and because of my ability to step outside. People don’t know, Kenyon Martin is probably only 6’5”. But he’s athletic, can jump to the moon, quick feet. So your typical move wasn’t beating Kenyon Martin. You had to do some extra stuff. You know, you had to do some extra moves to get by Kenyon. He’s a great defender so, we had some unbelievable battles me and Kenyon. I respect him to the utmost as a defender, as a competitor so those were some epic battles. When you think about New Jersey you think about some of those battles.”