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Jason Kidd: Follow the Leader

When I was younger and would go out for recess during school, the boys would usually play basketball while the girls would play a game called broken telephone. If youre not familiar with the game it goes a something like this. One person says a word or phrase and the next person has to say the first thing that comes to mind.

I thought I would give it a try. And since Im a huge basketball fan, lets start with the NBA. From there I would say Nets because theyre my favorite team. From Nets I might say Jason Kidd. From Jason Kidd I would immediately come up with the word leader. Anybody who has seen Jason Kidd play knows exactly why he deserves such a title.

What does leadership mean to a man who uses it so much?

The ability to get on the same page and execute, and to be able to set a positive example for my teammates, says Kidd.

According to Kidd, the qualities to being a good leader are, to be responsible when things are going bad and to take that responsibility to try to turn things around and not try to be a front-runner when things are going good.

Kidd knows the feeling. Last year the Nets started off the season going 2-11. Through hard work and good leadership, Kidd and the rest of the Nets were able to turn the season around and make the playoffs.

As much as people think being a basketball player does not require schooling, the skills needed to be a good basketball player can be developed in the classroom. Listening skills, leadership, discipline and the desire to put in the hard work are all basic needs not only to make it in the NBA but in everyday life as well.

It all starts with your parents and teachers, Kidd says. Listen to them and understand they have been in the same shoes as you, whether as a kid or as an adult.

Jason discovered his talent for basketball while in elementary school. When he was in the third grade, the fourth grade basketball team didnt have enough players so he raised his hand to play only because his friend had raised his.

Jason is the captain of the Nets. With the title come the responsibilities. Just like we kids do for school, he wakes up early for practice.

My responsibilities are to be on-time, he says. Whenever you are on-time or early, it shows that you are committed to work.

Dont worry Jason, all us kids know how your feel.

His other responsibility is to motivate his teammates. I push the guys to be the best they can be and to executive the game plan for coach.

Jasons leadership does not stop when he leaves the court. In every day life, his leadership qualities have helped him to be a good parent, a good husband, and to understand the importance of what is right and what is wrong.

Jason enjoys working with the younger players.

Working with the younger guys is a lot of fun, to take a rookie and show him the little tricks Ive picked up over the years, Kidd says. When I was a rookie I didnt have that veteran-type player and these younger guys are fortunate. But you can always learn.

As the league has gotten younger, Jason tries to mentor the younger players and teach them what it means to be an NBA player. Players from other team sometimes ask Jason for his advice in certain situations.

If you dream of one day playing in the NBA, Jason says you should always dream and have the work ethic to not let anybody tell you any different and work hard.

We all know how rare it is to make it to the NBA so if it doesnt happen Jason says all hope is not lost.

Apply that same work ethic used to become an NBA player to your everyday life and set your sights on achieving other goals.

You dont have to play basketball to be a leader. Jason says to be a leader in every day life you need to set your goals and make them realistic, to have a checklist and make sure you have achieved those goals at each step you have taken.

What many people dont know about Jason Kidd is that he played many different sports growing up. He played soccer which was the first love baseball, flag football and eventually basketball. Recently, he and his wife have gotten into surfing.

Its much tougher than it looks, Kidd says.

This shows how you should keep an open mind to everything because Jason Kidd may have never been a professional basketball player if he hadnt raised his hand that day in the third grade.

Jason is a family man. He brings his son T.J. to many of the games. One time he and his wife were chatting and he wanted to find a way to say hi to her while on the road. Originally, he was going to do jumping jacks each time before a free throw, but then thought if he got to the free throw line 15 times in a game he would be exhausted. So he decided to blow a kiss before each free throw, which he still does it today.

Jason Kidd is a great NBA player, a great person and a great leader. He uses his rare leadership skills on and off the court. He loves the game of basketball deeply and has as much respect for the game as I have for him.

He is an excellent player who will be remembered for his unselfish play and his beautiful passes. Jason Kidd is a leader.

Ethan Asofsky has been a Nets fan for all 14 years he has been on this Earth. When he is not at the Continental Airlines Arena watching games in person, he is at home in Merrick, NY watching the Nets on the YES Network. Ethan will be writing a regular feature for kids on throughout the season.