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New Jersey Nets writers remember the dawn of Jason Kidd

SLAM magazine

Dave D'Alessandro and Mike Vaccaro of the Star-Ledger, Fred Kerber of the Post and Al Iannazzone and Ian O'Connor of the Record all had front row seats for the Jason Kidd Era. Each recounts for their current employer what it was like watching him transform a franchise through their own words and those of the Nets brass they covered.

From GM Rod Thorn to Trainer Tim Walsh and PR man Gary Sussman, they all shared their recollections with the "beats" Monday. Here's a sampling:

"I remember when Larry Bird went to the Celtics, they took a huge jump up -- it’s happened with a few special players. But we went from 26 wins to. . . .what, 52 as soon as Jason arrived? That’s a pretty incredible jump. And that was almost entirely Jason." -- Rod Thorn.

"He changed the whole culture and perception of the whole organization. He's all about winning. He's one of a kind, one of the greats. He made players better. He made coaches better. He made management better. There aren't a lot of people who can do that." -- Lawrence Frank.

"It’s hard to describe a guy’s aura, but the amazing thing is how you could see it and feel its impact in other guys. First, he was the toughest player -- by far -- I have ever worked with. But it was also the tone he set just by competing so hard all the time. It was obvious: The other players didn’t want to let him down. So they elevated their game, changed their approach to practice, and improved their attitudes – it just grew organically." -- Tim Walsh.

"The second practice in that first training camp, Jason dove headfirst for a loose ball. He talked so little on the floor, but guys would play just to not let him down. Besides changing the course of the Nets on the court, he changed the career paths of players and coaches." - Gary Sussman

Vaccaro also includes a quote from Kidd himself, one he wrote during that magical 2001-02 season in East Rutherford. It was about how Kidd used the element of surprise... and wowed the NBA.

"Nobody paid attention to us," said Kidd, then 28. "And we could learn to play as a team when nobody was watching. And by the time they did, we were able to give them a show."

He certainly did.