Jason Kidd’s Indefinite Leave of Absence

The collateral damage of a long playing career is felt in the body long after basketball is over. The pattern is predictable. Torture comes first. Unbearable pain that causes suffering, sleepless nights, painful days and useless medication is the follow-up. Finally the issue is forced. For Jason Kidd, best point guard of his generation or any generation for that matter, NBA champion, coach, that issue is hip surgery.

Kidd’s hip has been deteriorating since his Dallas days when he prolonged his career and was rewarded with a NBA title in 2011. But the situtation has come full circle; there is no other possible solution but hip surgery. It will take place tomorrow in New York, performed by Dr. Edwin Su at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. The timetable for his return is uncertain but Kidd is vowing to be back in his office in two weeks. The interim coach is Bucks assistant Joe Prunty.

Kidd told his team after they won a road game in Phoenix, a highlight on an otherwise brutal trip, losing to the Lakers, Clippers and Warriors.

“It’s been chronic for the last three or four years, since I was in Dallas the last time. The pain has been to the point where I can’t function. I’ve taken all the medicine I can do. Talking to the doctor’s, there’s really no good time to do the surgery. I have to fix myself and then we move on and get back to work.”

Work has been a disappointing season for a team with such high hopes after last year’s playoff finish. But the Bucks have had trouble doing almost everything. They are the third worst team in the Eastern Conference; only the Nets and 76ers are more pathetic. They are next to last in points scored. They are near last in pace. Their offensive rating is 25th. Their defensive rating is 28th. They are the 25th best rebounding club. But as is fitting with a Jason Kidd ballclub, they are 5th in assists.

“We’re all set. Joe Prunty will take over and he will run the team. But nobody gets out of their lane. The guys have to continue to develop. It’s in good hands with the coaching staff. We’re built as a roundtable. Joe is well-qualified to keep these guys going in the right direction.”

The Bucks end their trip, 0-for-California, but a win in Phoenix. They play the hopeless 76ers on Wednesday, after a few days off. But then, they lost to the hopeless Lakers too, so for the Bucks there is no sure win, particularly since Greg Monroe isn’t 100%.

After X-mas the Bucks go on a tough four game trip: at the Mavs, Thunder, Pacers and Timberwolves.

Besides Orlando, the Bucks are the only other Eastern Conference team without a 16.5 point a game scorer. Even the 76ers have a 18 point scorer in Jahlil Okafor. The Bucks offense is in need of resurrection, regardless of this latest round of Bucks bad news.

A tough season had a glimmer of light when the Bucks beat the Warriors and ended their 24 game winning streak. The lingering emotion of that night lasted through their plane ride to Los Angeles. Rumors circulated the Bucks were clubbing and hanging with women in preparation of playing the Lakers, a team they took lightly and then, they got beat.

Jason Kidd has bigger concerns. Managing a pain-free day is at the top of the list.

“Some would say it’s the 55,000 minutes that I tried to play. A lot of wear and tear on my body. I’ve been blessed not to have too many surgeries. This is just one that has taken away from me being able to sleep and function. We put it off as long as we could.”

Jason Kidd, a native of Oakland, California, the oldest of six kids, played 19 seasons in the NBA after a two year stint at Cal-Berkeley. He was the second round pick selected after Glen Robinson, drafted by Dallas. Kidd was in the same draft class as Grant Hill and Jalen Rose.

Kidd played for the Mavericks twice, the Suns, Nets and Knicks before calling it a career in 2013. He’ll end up in the Hall of Fame in 2018.

In his long career, Kidd played 50,111 minutes. He scored 17,259 points and had 12,091 assists which puts him second all time behind John Stockton (15,806).

photo via llananba