PHOENIX — David Fizdale turned the floor over to a guest at Wednesday morning’s shootaround, allowing the lessons to come from a player who had taught him one as a player.
The last time that Kidd and Fizdale had shared a court as players was in high school, the California State Championship game in 1991. Kidd’s Alameda St. Joseph’s squad from Oakland beat Fizdale’s Fremont team. They had been on opposite sides in the 2011 NBA Finals with point guard Kidd guiding the Mavericks to a championship over the Miami Heat, with Fizdale serving as an assistant coach for the Heat.
But despite the disappointments on the court, Fizdale said they have been close off of it and with Kidd living in Arizona now he reached out to make him the latest Hall of Famer to speak to his young team.
“Yeah, that’s a real big-time one there,” Fizdale said. “We’ve been friends a long time. We go back to high school days together. I figured we’re here, who better to talk to my point guards than one of the greatest to ever do it.
“Unfortunately, he’s killed me twice. He beat me in the state championship and he beat me in the NBA Finals. Although I have him here visiting he’s not one of my favorite people. Nah, we’ve been a part of each other's basketball lives literally since we were ninth, 10th graders. I was down here and he was the best high school player I’d ever seen or played against. To know that I have that as an asset, as a friend, a guy that I know that can really tell these guys some good information from a high level, I’m lucky to have that.”
Kidd has been sidelined since being let go as coach of the Milwaukee Bucks last season, although his name has already been prominently mentioned in rumors about a possible coaching change with the Lakers after this season. But it is his play on the court that Fizdale hoped would reverberate with his point guards, Emmanuel Mudiay, Dennis Smith Jr. and Frank Ntilikina.
“He was in Dallas, when I really got to see him play was when they won the championship in Dallas,” said Mudiay, who lived in Dallas then. “So I grew up kind of watching him and Dirk [Nowitzki]. Of course I’ve seen the New Jersey stuff he did as well. He got drafted to Dallas as well. Watching him, just the way he got his teammates involved and the fact that he can rebound the way he rebounded at his size. Everybody knew he can pass. One thing we talked about was defensively, how good he was playing passing lanes and stuff like that.”
“[He talked about] basic stuff, basic things about the position, the responsibilities of the position, how to get yours and get other guys shots, stuff like that,” Fizdale said. “How to lead guys in moments of adversity. Anything coming from Jason to these guys is all big-time jewels.”
Getting those lessons from one of the best ever to play the position is special — and maybe a little better than getting it from their coach, the person that he did it against.
“I wouldn’t say it’s different, but I would say the person who did it can probably tell you better how he did more so than a coach could tell you, ‘Oh this person used to do this, this person used to do that,’” Mudiay said. “But it is different when he’s telling you himself what he did. Not to knock the coaches because they make sense of it too. But hearing it from the individual does help a little bit.”
Fizdale said he expects that Kidd will be back on the sidelines soon.
“Yeah, yeah. There’s no way [he isn’t],” Fizdale said. “That guy is a basketball genius. I just don’t see how at some point he’s not running another team.”