Originally posted on Fox Sports Southwest  |  Last updated 11/21/12
DALLAS-- When the New York Knicks signed Jason Kidd to a free agent contract over the summer, not only did Knicks coaches and brass know they were getting one of the greatest floor generals in the history of the NBA, but they also knew they were receiving a player who would also have a very positive impact off the court, namely in the locker room. Besides coming to a brand new team in the Knicks after spending the past few years in Dallas, where he was part of an NBA championship team in 2011, not only did the former Cal star have a new group of teammates to get acclimated to, but he also had to play at the two spot for the first time in his career. A point guard by trade, the Knicks already had someone to run the offense on their roster in Raymond Felton, who was returning to the Big Apple after playing in Denver and Portland the last few years after seeing 54 games of action with New York in 2010-11 before being dealt to the Nuggets near the trade deadline. Felton is one of countless members of the New York roster who remember idolizing Kidd while growing up now find themselves as his teammate. For some that might be a weird experience, but for the current Knicks point guard, it's one he wouldn't trade for anything. "It's been great for me and my game. He's in my opinion one of the best point guards ever to play this game," Felton said. "Yeah, I did grow up watching him, idolizing him as a point guard and what he used to do out there. To have the opportunity to pick his brain and play alongside him and with him, it's been great for me and great for our team." But when asked to name some of the specific lessons J-Kidd has passed along during their few months as teammate, the ex-Tar Heel chose to remain silent about the nature of their discussions. "That's between me and him, just a lot of big brother, little brother types of things. That's the kind of relationship we have," Felton said. However, Felton isn't the only one of Kidd's new teammates who is relishing the experience of playing alongside a first ballot Hall of Famer like the ex-Maverick floor general. Fellow guard Ronnie Brewer echoes Felton's sentiment about the immeasurable impact his new teammate has had on he and his teammates. "He's a great teammate. He's the typical pro, typical vet. He makes the game so much easier for you as a player on both ends of the floor. Offensively, he makes the extra pass and he's very unselfish when he runs the team and you try to play off him. Defensively, he talks very well, knows the rotation. He's a student of the game," Brewer said. "He sees everything, hears everything, knows like a coach when to make adjustments in a game and can tell you and coach you while you're out there. He's really helped me out so far early in the season. To me, it's an honor and a privilege to get to play with him." And the 27-year-old Arkansas product even relayed the rather interesting tale of the first time he met Kidd back when he was growing up in Little Rock as the son of former Razorback hoop star Ron Brewer. "I remember the first time talking to J-Kidd, I told him about it. He probably doesn't remember but I was a little kid. I don't know how old I was but he was a senior in high school and he played in the played in the King Cotton Classic in Pine Bluff, Arkansas with Corliss Williamson," Brewer recalled. "My dad took me down there to show me Jason Kidd and Corliss. Just shows how time flies but he's a great player, a great teammate and wouldn't trade him for anybody in the world." Knicks forward James White has been in the Association almost as long as Felton and Brewer and even though he's had countless veteran teammates to learn from during his time with the Spurs and Rockets, he admits there's nothing quite like being able to learn from a guy who is universally regarded as one of the best point guards in NBA history. "Jason, his knowledge of the game is crazy but he leads by example more than anything. He's a hard worker still, even though he's in his 19th year," White said. "Just continues to work and gives a lot to the younger guys whenever he can. He's just been a big help for me and a lot of the younger guys." So, there you have it, even though Jason Kidd is nearing the age of 40 and in his 19th season of playing in the NBA, that time in any player's career where his skills start to diminish, there is no doubt that his impact on his young teammates continues to be as strong as it ever was. Even at age 39 and clearly in the twilight of his time in the Association, it's not at all surprising to hear his younger teammates say that Kidd's work ethic hasn't dimmed in the least. Of course, the San Francisco native was blessed with incredible gifts that have manifested themselves countless times on the hardwood, things like an incredible vision to see things happen on the court long before they do, an ability to deliver pinpoint passes like few others have been able to do, a competitive fire that few have been able to match as well as a shot that has improved over the course of a truly legendary career. But those gifts might have been somewhat wasted were it not for an unyielding work ethic, something else which has come to define Jason Kidd in NBA circles not just among fans, but also among members of the media and maybe most importantly, among his fellow players. So, whether his most recent trip to Dallas turns out to be his final visit to the site of his greatest success as a player or not, there's no doubt he has had an instant impact on his new teammates in New York. Many say the NBA is a better league to follow when the Knicks are relevant and with Mike Woodson's club off to an 8-1 start, that theory is being put to the test. Whether this impressive start is a sign that the Knicks are back or if it is a mere aberration, one of the more intriguing sidebars to keep an eye on this season is how much of an impact Jason Kidd has on his new team because if the early returns are any indication, Kidd's impact will continue to be quite substantial as New York progresses through the 2012-13 regular season.
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