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Jason Kidd the latest Knicks alum to mentor young team

PHOENIX — Another ex-Knick was summoned by coach David Fizdale to impart his wisdom, even if this point-guard legend spent just one season in orange and blue.

Newly inducted Hall of Famer Jason Kidd appeared at the Knicks shootaround at the Talking Stick Resort Arena and spent nearly 20 minutes huddled with Knicks point guards Dennis Smith Jr. and Emmanuel Mudiay. (Frank Ntilikina is with the team but still is rehabbing from a groin strain and wasn’t part of the conference, though they exchanged greetings).

Fizdale, out of Los Angeles, and Kidd, an Oakland product, go back to their teenaged years when their California high schools were state rivals. Kidd’s St. Joseph’s beat Fizdale’s school in the 1992 state finals.

“That’s a real big-time one over there,’’ Fizdale said, pointing to the Kidd-Smith-Mudiay summit. “We’ve been friends a long time – go back to high school days. I figure we’re here. Who better to talk to my point guards than one of the best and greatest ever?”

Fizdale said he wanted Kidd to impart “basic things about the position, responsibility of the position, how to get yourself and other guys shots. How to lead guys in moments of adversity. Anything coming from Jason to these guys is big time for us.’’

Fizdale said Kidd, living in Phoenix, is easily one of the top five point guards to ever play and expects he’ll be an NBA head coach soon again. Not only did Kidd top Fizdale in the high school championship game, but Kidd led Dallas to an upset over Fizdale’s Miami Dream Team in 2011 for the NBA title. (Fizdale was a Miami assistant).

Jason Kidd (middle) talks with Dennis Smith and Emmanuel Mudiay at Knicks practice.
Jason Kidd (middle) talks with Dennis Smith and Emmanuel Mudiay at Knicks practice.Marc Berman

Kidd played for the Knicks in their last winning season, in 2012-13 when they mounted a 54-28 record. Then he retired to coach the Nets.

“That guy’s a basketball genius,’’ Fizdale said. “I don’t see how at some point he’s not running another team.’’

Mudiay, a restricted free agent who still could be back if the Knicks don’t net a free-agent point guard such as Kyrie Irving, ate up the conversation.

It was a nice surprise birthday present for Mudiay, who grew up in Dallas and saw Kidd win the NBA title.

“Everyone knows his history as a Hall of Famer,’’ said Mudiay, who turned 23 on Wednesday. “I really appreciate him coming to talk to me and Dennis. It’s helpful. Not going to say everything he said, but just management throughout the game.’’

Mudiay remembers Kidd as a Net in his prime and as a Maverick later on in his second stint.

“Just watching him the way he got his teammates involved and the fact he could rebound the way he rebounded at his size and pass,’’ Mudiay said. “And one thing we talked about was defensively how good he was playing passing lanes.’’

Asked if it means more to hear it from a legend than a coaching-staff member, Mudiay said, “I would say the person that did it can tell you better how he did it more so than a coach saying ‘this person used to do this.’ It is different when he’s telling you himself – not to knock the coaches – but hearing from the individual himself does help.”

Fizdale has brought in a slew of Knicks alumni – from Bill Bradley to Patrick Ewing to Bernard King – to talk to his young players but this one was the most unexpected and an indicator of Fizdale’s influence.


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