This NBA offseason has been nothing if not interesting. We started off with Deron Williams deciding to move with the Nets to Brooklyn, who acquired Joe Johnson to join him. There has been the saga of Dwight Howard with where the talented and mercurial center will end up.
But perhaps more than anything, the old guys have been the story of the offseason. We've seen some legendary NBA veterans choosing new teams to finish their career and chase one last ring. Steve Nash worked out a sign-and-trade to the Los Angeles Lakers, as the point guard teams up with Kobe in an attempt to get the one ring which has eluded him his entire career. Ray Allen left Boston behind as he took his talents to South Beach, teaming up with the NBA Champion Miami Heat. And a year removed from his first NBA title with the Dallas Mavericks, Jason Kidd is NYC bound as he takes the reins of a Knicks team trying to become a contender in the East.
With these NBA legends landing in new places, let's take a look at where it all started:
Let us start with the oldest man of the trio, Jason Kidd. The Cal product was drafted 2nd overall by the Dallas Mavericks in 1994. A strong rookie season saw Kidd named Co-Rookie of the Year in 1995 with Grant Hill. Kidd's arrival was supposed to signal an era of winning for the Mavericks, as he teamed up with Jamal Mashburn and Jim Jackson to form the "Three J's." However, the trio were never able to achieve a winning season and left the franchise after three years. However, Kidd's play started to put his name on the map, earning the point guard a starting All-Star game spot in his second season.
However, with the era of the "Three J's" failing, the Mavs decided to rebuild. Kidd was traded to the Phoenix Suns with Tony Dumas and Loren Meyer for Michael Finley, A. C. Green, and Sam Cassell during the 1996–97 season. It would be in Phoenix where Kidd became a superstar, becoming a first team All-Pro and an Olympic gold medalist. If you want to get a jersey where it all started though, check out Kidd's rookie Mavs jersey:
Next up fittingly is Steve Nash, whose career has always been intextricably linked to Jason Kidd's. Nash was drafted 15th overall by the Phoenix Suns in 1996, booed by the Suns fan that did not know of the Santa Clara product. But halfway through his rookie season Kidd arrived via trade, as the new arrival as well as Kevin Johnson kept Nash from getting minutes. However, in his second season Nash began to earn more minutes, and he made the most of them. Nash's distribution and 3-point shooting began to shine through.
Former Mavericks assistant Donnie Nelson had befriended Nash while the point guard was at Santa Clara. When Nelson's father Don took the helm of the Mavericks, the younger Nelson compelled his father to go after Nash. What happened after that is history. Following the 1998 NBA Draft, Nash was traded from the Suns to the Mavericks. Nash became a star in Dallas, given the opportunity for playing time. And six years later, when the Suns realized their mistake in trading Nash, they offered a huge offer to the point guard in the opening hours of free agency, as Nash returned to Phoenix to help build one of the NBA's best teams of the 2000's.
Mitchell & Ness has Nash's rookie Suns jersey, check it out:
Ray Allen was drafted fifth overall in the '96 NBA Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves, who immediately traded him with Andrew Lang to the Milwaukee Bucks for 4th overall pick Stephon Marbury. A star at UConn, Allen was able to come in and make an immediate impact with the Bucks. Allen teamed up with Glenn Robinson for a pairing that would define Bucks' basketball of the era. When Sam Cassell arrived in 1999, the trio formed Allen's original "Big 3."
Allen's strong play also earned him a gold medal in the 2000 Olympics, as well as a starring role in 1998 film "He Got Game." But Allen's Bucks could never reach their desired heights, peaking in a 2001 Eastern Conference Finals loss. Allen's time with the Bucks ended in 2003, when he was traded in a multi-player deal that sent him to the Seattle Supersonics with Gary Payton going the other way. Allen's time in Seattle would be one of individual accomplishment but little team achievement. That all changed when he was traded to the Celtics in 2007, as the new "Big 3" he formed with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce won the 2008 NBA Title.
Allen's rookie Bucks alternate jersey is available from Mitchell & Ness. Check out the big style on this one: