Veteran leadership is Kidd's stuff

Jason Kidd of the New York Knicks controls Jason Kidd of the New York Knicks controls the ball against LeBron James of the Miami Heat. (Nov. 2, 2012) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

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DALLAS -- Jason Kidd has totaled 11,870 NBA assists, but his biggest to date was helping Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks win their only NBA championship. Kidd hopes he can help get Carmelo Anthony his first and the Knicks' their first in 40 years.

Kidd likes the Knicks' chances. He returned Wednesday night to the city he called home for 41/2 years and with a squad that he thinks is comparable to the Mavericks team that won it all in 2011.

"There are some similarities," Kidd said. "We got Dirk to play defense. We've got to rebound the ball better here. We're a big team so we shouldn't be out-rebounded. There's always something to work on and that's one of the things.

"[But] it has that feel to be like that team, where we shared the ball, we don't care who scores. We just want the win. And we're deep, too. So we'll see what happens. Hopefully it's the same turnout."

Kidd, 39, chose to sign with the Knicks over Dallas because he believed they had a better chance to win. The Knicks took an 8-1 record into Wednesday night's game. They've already matched the best nine-game start in franchise history and were looking to equal the best after 10 games with a win over the Mavericks.

Kidd is shooting the ball well (52.7 percent overall and 50 percent from three), and averaging 7.3 points and 3.1 assists. But the numbers don't tell the story of Kidd at this stage of his career or his importance to the Knicks.

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The future Hall of Fame point guard's defense, intelligence, court vision and leadership have meant so much. Kidd has had a positive effect on Anthony and J.R. Smith, helping them to become more well-rounded players.

Kidd's impact was similar on Nowitzki, who remains out of the Mavs' lineup as he rehabs from knee surgery. The change in Anthony can be attributed to being on the Olympic team, but Kidd's presence has played a part, too.

Anthony is playing with a purpose that shows he's matured and seems ready to do what it takes to win. He carried the Knicks to a 102-80 victory in New Orleans Tuesday night to start this trip, scoring 29 points in 28 minutes. He also had six rebounds and four assists.

"I know he's good, so I don't want to say that he's better [than I thought]," Kidd said. "I think that as time has gone by he's gotten better. You could see his leadership from Day One in training camp."

Tyson Chandler said Anthony should be leading the early season MVP race. There is still plenty of basketball left and plenty of questions the Knicks still have to answer, challenges they need to overcome.

The Knicks are playing terrific ball but several teams they've faced have been without their best player or key guys, including Nowitzki, the 76ers' Andrew Bynum and Danny Granger for the Pacers.

But the Knicks also are missing two potential starters in Amar'e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert. When they return, coach Mike Woodson will have to fit them in, which could lead to some adjusting and growing pains.

The Knicks aren't looking that far ahead. They're following Anthony's lead and Kidd's, too.

"I'm happy with my decision," Kidd said. "I'm trying to help these guys win a championship.

If he could do that, to Anthony, the Knicks and New Yorkers it would be Kidd's greatest assist of all.

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