Former Nets star Jason Kidd leads Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2018
Former Nets all-time great Jason Kidd, two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash, and former All-Stars Ray Allen and Grant Hill headlined the 13-member Basketball Hall of Fame class announced on Saturday. Former Nets general manager Rod Thorn, who traded for Kidd and was named NBA executive of the year in 2002 after the first of two straight Eastern Conference titles, also was among the honorees.
Two other players with New York connections, Liberty coach Katie Smith and Harlem native Charlie Scott, who became the first African-American player in the ACC at North Carolina and scored more than 15,000 points in the ABA and NBA, also were named.
The other six members of the Class of 2018 are former 76ers star Maurice Cheeks, coach Lefty Driesell, who led Maryland and three other schools to more than 100 wins, WNBA star Tina Thompson, Warriors president Rick Welts, Dino Radja, a member of the FIBA top 50, and women’s basketball pioneer Ora Mae Washington.
Since joining the NBA, the Nets had their most successful era under the front-office leadership of Thorn and the court generalship of point guard Kidd. Thorn drafted Kenyon Martin with the No. 1 overall pick in 2000 and then traded for Kidd in 2001 and drafted Richard Jefferson (via Houston) and later traded for Vince Carter early in the 2004-05 season. He also drafted all-time leading franchise scorer Brook Lopez in 2008.
Kidd, a 10-time All-Star who ranks second all-time in assists and steals, was the difference-maker when he joined a roster that included Martin, Jefferson, Keith Van Horn and Kerry Kittles. His brilliant playmaking elevated that team to Eastern Conference title wins over the Celtics in 2002 before a loss to the Lakers in the Finals and then over the Pistons in 2003 before losing to the Spurs in the Finals. After retirement, Kidd returned to coach the Nets in 2013-14 when they reached the second round of the playoffs.
“I loved those Nets teams that they were a part of,” coach Kenny Atkinson said before the Nets’ game Saturday night in Miami, “It’s not only how good they were but how much fun they were to watch. It was a fantastic style of basketball, pushing the ball, good passing and sharing the ball. Rod obviously did a fantastic job with the Nets, great player acquisitions. It was great for the whole New York area. It was a good time, and I enjoyed it immensely.”
Liberty coach Smith is the all-time leading scorer in women’s professional basketball history with 7,885 points in a career that included two seasons in the ABL and two titles in the WNBA, where she was a seven-time All-Star. She also was a member of three U.S. Olympic gold medal teams.
Scott, who was in San Antonio attending the Final Four when the announcement was made, recalled watching high school basketball at Madison Square Garden and aspired to excel in the fabled Rucker League.
“When I grew up, New York was the pinnacle,” said Scott, who played for Stuyvesant before finishing at a prep school in North Carolina. “The Rucker Tournament, that was our Madison Square Garden. That was my dream. You go there and see Wilt [Chamberlain] and you see Connie Hawkins and you see Satch Sanders. I hoped I could be there one day and play.”
Speaking of his HOF election, Scott added, “To be here from where I came from is a great, great, great privilege.”
With Mark Herrmann