T.J. Kidd remembers when he figured out he was a basketball legend’s son.
“I probably realized when the kids in gym class were picking me first in basketball during elementary school,” joked Jason Kidd’s oldest son.
Trey Jason Kidd is now 21 years old, a long time removed from when his father led the Nets to two NBA finals in 2002 and 2003 and when he was three and four years old. Sitting courtside with his mother, Joumana, in those heady days, he was a fixture at Continental Airlines Arena, a fan favorite in own right, adorned in his child-sized No. 5 jersey.
Some of the biggest moments back then escape his memory, like the way Celtics fans treated him and his mother during the Eastern Conference Finals in 2002. In a rare display of emotion, Kidd famously flashed a 2-2 sign at the fans as he left TD Garden, a sign of how much the treatment of his family angered him.
TJ does not remember much at all when it comes to his dads playing days as a Phoenix Sun. It was when he came to New Jersey that he began to remember the early days of his dad’s hall of fame career.
“I do not remember much when he was in Phoenix because I was between one, two, and three,” Kidd said. “I remember little bits and pieces but when he was in New Jersey, that’s when it all started and remember things clearly.”
It was on June 28, 2001 the New Jersey Nets franchise would forever change. The Nets traded Stephon Marbury, Johnny Newman, and Soumailia Samake to acquire Phoenix Suns guard Jason Kidd and Chris Dudley.
Kidd, Joumana and T.J. were in line at a Phoenix area Jack-in-the-Box when word came on the car radio that he had been traded. Joumana remembers how Kidd kept his cool and placed his order.
In his six and a half season as a New Jersey Net, Kidd led the Nets to two NBA Finals appearances while being named a four-time NBA All-Star, three-time All-NBA point guard, and various other league honors. In addition to his league accomplishments as a Net, Kidd’s number five jersey hangs in the Barclays Center rafters.
In that first season as a Net, when Kidd led the team to the NBA Finals, T.J. does not remember too much from the historic year. What he remembers the most was the 2001 NBA All-Star game in Washington ... and being in awe.
“I remember bits and pieces like I remember going to the All-Star game,” Kidd said.” Not really understanding it but I was in more awe of it.”
The memories build, as they do with all of us, as Kidd grew. After 2007, those memories, like his dad, moved from New Jersey to Dallas, then back to New York.
For TJ, the 2008 NBA All-Star game and his dad winning his first NBA Championship with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011 will be the memories he never forgets.
“A few moments stick out to me,” Kidd said. “The All-Star game in 2008 was cool, walking down the hallways with LeBron. Actually someone sent me the video recently. I was cool back then. Another one would be when my dad won the finals in 2011 with Dallas and that one maybe the all time favorite.”
Following his playing career, it did not take long for the former Nets captain to return. This time, it was not in the Meadowlands but Brooklyn when Kidd was named the head coach of the Nets in 2013.
Shortly into the 2013-14 season, the Nets retired his No. 5 jersey into the rafters. For his son T.J, he knew a return to the Nets was eventually going to happen. He recalls the jersey retirement a beautiful day for his family and will always remember the day.
“It felt like a homecoming,” Kidd said. “It was very cool to be back with the Nets. I think when we left, it was around the time Brooklyn was being discussed. Eventually, I thought my dad was going to come back one way shape or form. From having them retire his jersey to other ways but we knew it was inevitable. I think it was important the way that it happened and it was very nice for our family.”
“It’s funny because a lot of people didn’t think I was there,” Kidd said. “If you look at a picture, I was standing right under the banner. I just remember ‘oh my gosh like this is crazy.’ I remember just being a little kid. I got a little emotional and Deron Williams needed to throw me a towel. It was really cool, we sat in a suite that night, and it was a beautiful moment for our family. My dad is not someone who shows emotion but I know he was happy about the work he gave to earn that.”
When it comes to the greatest point guard of all-time, Jason Kidd’s name will always be in the conversation. Of course, T.J. believes his father is the GOAT at the 1.
“I think he is one of the greatest to ever do it and I am not saying that because he is my dad,” Kidd said. “His ability to impact the game without having to score the ball is a trait very few people have in terms of basketball.”
Growing up, TlJ. played basketball, in addition to other sports. When he attended Bergen Catholic High School for three years, he played basketball at the prestigious North Jersey private school. Like his father, he played the point guard position but spent most of his time as a forward. As a forward, he looked up to another notable Net and one of his father’s teammate and absorbed as much as he could from watching him play.
“There were a few people I took from and enjoyed watching play,” Kidd said. “I loved the way Kenyon [Martin] played the game. I tried to take his intensity and keep that anytime I was on defense when I played in high school.”
Over the past two years, T.J. served as the head coach of the Beverly Hills High School freshman team, before that as a varsity assistant. He’s close to the Staples Center where his father is an assistant coach with the Lakers.
“What I do now, I coached high school basketball for the past two years,” Kidd said. “I coach at Beverly Hills High School. I started off as the varsity assistant and then I was the freshman head coach last year. This year, I took a year off to just figure out where I want to go next but coaching basketball and I train kids as well. It’s fun to pass the knowledge I’ve learned and it has been a lot of fun.”
When it comes down to naming an all-time Nets team, T.J. Kidd starts with his father.
“My dad obviously at the 1, Drazen [Petrovic] at the 2, Vince [Carter] at the 3, RJ [Richard Jefferson] at the 4, and Kenyon [Martin] at the 5,“ Kidd said. “I’d have Dr. J come off the bench. Maybe John Calipari as my coach, can’t forget Lawrence Frank, Byron Scott, one of those guys but there are so many I would choose.”
And of course, there’s no doubt who he thinks was the greatest Net ever.