Dallas Mavericks point guard Jason Kidd collected his 2,515th career steal midway through the second quarter of Monday’s 89-73 win, passing Michael Jordan to become No. 2 on the NBA’s all-time steals list.
“Well because Mike is everybody’s idol, he played both ends of the court,” Kidd said about passing Jordan. “Just being able to pass him in something is an honor in itself. When you talk about defense, he played both sides of the ball. [John] Stockton and Jordan are the two best at what they do. When you talk about guards, those two are the best all-time.”
Kidd finished the game with three steals, bringing his career total to 2,517.
“I’ve just been in the right place at the right time, understanding guys’ tendencies, watching film early on in my career and just been lucky to be in the league long enough to get in the way of some passes,” Kidd said.
Kidd, who came into the game leading the Mavs with a 1.68-steals-per-game average, has at least one steal in each of his last nine games (excluding the Jan. 27 game when he injured his right calf and left after just two minutes). In his three previous games, Kidd had eight steals, including three Sunday in a loss to the Knicks.
So many of Kidd’s thefts have come as a result of pure anticipation and instinct, understanding where an opposing player wants to go with the basketball before he does and then ambushing the play.
“Jason reminds me of Larry Bird that way,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said before the game. “He has a unique anticipation, it’s almost savant-like. He kind of senses things before they happen. I mean he senses when a guy’s going to throw the ball into the post before the guy even knows he’s going to throw the ball into the post. And then Jason, he gets around and is able to knock it away and goes the other way. Bird was the same way, so he’s an all-time great, one of the best ever.”
Kidd, who turns 39 next month, likely won’t ascend to No. 1 by time he finally decides to call it a career. Former Utah Jazz great John Stockton is safely the game’s all-time steals leader with 3,265.
Kidd is also second all-time in assists, trailing Stockton by more than 4,000.
Nowitzki reached two more career milestones in the first quarter. With his seventh point of the first quarter, Nowitzki moved past Celtics great Robert Parish to become No. 20 on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
He did it midway through the quarter by hitting a patented elbow jumper while getting fouled by Celtics forward Chris Wilcox.
The made free throw gave Nowitzki the three-point play and the 23,335th point of his 14-year career.
In the opening minutes of the quarter, Nowitzki recorded his 1,000th career block. He swatted away Celtics guard Avery Bradley‘s reverse layup attempt. Bradley was starting for suspended point guard Rajon Rondo.
Jeff Caplan covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com.
Follow Jeff Caplan on Twitter: @espn_caplan
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