The San Antonio Spurs have won five championships. That comes in as the fifth most all time, behind only the Lakers and Celtics with 17 apiece, the Warriors (seven), and the Bulls (six). Only counting titles won since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976—what some would consider the dawn of the modern NBA—the good guys look even better. The Lakers are still at the top with 11, followed by the Bulls (six), Spurs (five), and Celtics and Warriors (four each).
Needless to say, Spurs fans have been spoiled. There’s a reason that a lot of the fanbase is angry about the tanking period that the team appears to be entering— fans are not used to losing. Regardless, there’s not a lot that fans of the Silver and Black would change about the last 25 years of moves made by the franchise. Sure, we’ve seen a lot of talented players and coaches leave for different opportunities, but somehow, the Spurs almost always find more.
One domino moment that I, for one, was not aware of was just brought to light, and it’s something that may make San Antonians do a double-take. This is not to say that the Spurs should’ve done anything, and who knows what a move like this would’ve changed about the course of history, but it’s a big one. Are you ready for it, Spurs fans?
This past Thursday, Jason Kidd revealed on the All the Smoke podcast that he was ready to sign with San Antonio in the summer of 2003 before negotiations fell apart. Now, there’s no telling about the validity to the statement; the podcast literally presents itself as a show that “pairs two of the most outspoken and controversial players of their time” (those players being Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson).
However, “Stak” (Jackson) was on the Spurs during the time period that the guys are discussing, having won a ‘chip with San Antonio in ‘03. As you can see in the video, he’s actually the one that posed the question about said negotiations. Also, Kidd seemed pretty earnest about the possibility. A team built around Tim Duncan, Jason Kidd, and Manu Ginobili, surrounded by all of the other great Spurs role players is borderline insane to imagine.
So what would this move have entailed?
You should probably cover your eyes and ears for this next part, Spurs fans. Stephen Jackson said that the reason that he knew about the Kidd to San Antonio discussions was that his agent was involved in them. The agent relayed that if Kidd was brought in, Tony Parker was going to be shipped out, and Stak would then stay in San Antonio rather than signing with Atlanta. Yup, our beloved TP, the point guard who helped win four rings and the next Spur in the Hall of Fame, out the door.
However, it does make sense. Throughout Tony’s first couple of seasons, he was constantly being placed into the starting lineup and then yanked out when he didn’t live up to the billing. The reason the Spurs were in talks with Jason Kidd (another point guard) was that Pop and the Front Office didn’t think that Parker was ready, and obviously felt that Kidd would do a better job at helping the team capitalize on their championship window.
What could’ve been in San Antonio
The tough love ended up working out for Tony Parker and the Spurs, and he turned into a six time All-Star and multi-time All-NBA player. As I said earlier, with five championships under their belts, fans of the Spurs probably wouldn’t change much. However, I didn’t make you read 500 plus words to just end the article by saying “eh, glad we didn’t do it.” There are huge implications to a hypothetical move from Parker to Kidd in ‘03, and I’m going to discuss them.
Depending on the list that you look at, Jason Kidd is in the 5-10 range for greatest point guards of all time. His name is brought up right behind the all-time greats Magic, Curry, Oscar, and Isiah. Tony Parker is somewhere between 15 and 20. While Kidd willed that 2002-03 Nets team to the Finals (averaging his career high in points per game), Parker was more of a sidekick to Duncan. Funny note—it would’ve been very 2016 Kevin Durant of Kidd to join the team he just lost to in the Finals.
Kidd was never the scorer that Tony was, but he was a triple double threat every time he touched the court. His peak lasted quite a bit longer, also. Even in the twilight of his career at age 37, Kidd was dishing dimes (and making threes!) for the 2011 Mavericks team that went on to win the title. Parker didn’t make the postseason past age 35 and averaged 6 points and one assist per game in his last playoffs.
But this is not a hit piece on no-doubt Hall of Famer Tony Parker. The three titles the Spurs won with TP from that point on is probably the ceiling with Jason Kidd (likely in a shorter stretch), depending on how long he stayed in San Antonio. This altered reality is still crazy to imagine, with peak Kidd joining peak Tim Duncan for an all-time pairing. Both top 75 players in NBA history (with Duncan top 10 in my book), getting to see The Kidd dish to Timmy in the low post would’ve been fun.
However, we don’t live in an altered timeline. Jason Kidd mentions at the end of the segment on All the Smoke that negotiations fell apart after he decided to remain loyal to what the Nets were building up in New Jersey. I’m sure that Spurs fans are happy to “settle” with what they got.