Jason Kidd is an excellent human being, an incredible athlete and an even better golfer. I will be starting every post with that sentence for the next week because I lost our wager. (Watch the video after the jump.)
“Make sure she gives you enough strokes,” said Allan Henry (who was my friend until Tuesday morning) to Jason Kidd, who had just pulled up in his black Jeep Rubix to pick me up for our friendly match at TPC Scottsdale.
“Yeah? I’ll need them,” the Dallas Maverick point guard replied.
“What’s your handicap?” asked Allan.
“10,” said Kidd.
“I played with her the other week, don’t let her fool you. If it were me, I’d make her give me two a side.”
Kidd smiled and said, “I’ll take that.” I protested vehemently as I glared at Allan. “You play all the time. How many times a week do you play? 3? 4?”
“Usually, but I haven’t played as much in the last few weeks. I shot an 80 last Saturday.”
“Well, I shot 83 on Saturday [at National], so you should be giving me strokes!” I said.
As Kidd was about to pull out of the driveway, Allan came running out with his phone in hand. “I need to take a picture of Steph, Jason Kidd and Tiger Woods in my driveway,” he explained (see picture above — Allan has some app on his droid phone that inserts Tiger into pics). I wasn’t sure how Jason would react (after all, I had just met the guy), but he started cracking up and leaned in for the picture.
We spent some more time in the car ride bickering over strokes, but finally agreed to play straight-up. After all, TPC is practically his home course.
“I just can’t keep it in the fairway,” Kidd said. It goes really far, but way right.”
Thing is, at TPC, it’s so open that you can hit a drive like the one Dustin Johnson did on the 72nd hole at Whistling Straits and have a shot to the green. After Kidd birdied the first hole, he pushed his drive into the cactus and had to take an unplayable.
Kidd, who played from the tips, usually tees off with his 3-wood, but he was having a particularly good driving day and only pushed a few into the no-fly zone. It was his day. I had a decent first nine — the back nine, which Kidd thinks is harder at TPC.
I only missed one fairway (okay, maybe one or two others were like a foot in the first cut) as I hit 230- to 240yard bombs (at least for me) down the middle. Jason joked, “You’re going to have to pee in a cup after the round.”
When we made the turn, I was 2-up. That didn’t last for long as I got a little too comfortable and lost my focus. But Kidd just played really well. He closed the match out on 17 in style, draining a 15-footer for birdie.
In the car ride over to TPC, I said, “I just think it’s fascinating that pro athletes [of all sports] love golf so much. Why is this?”
“Because you can’t perfect it,” he replied without hesitation.
On the 13th hole, Kidd, who was starting to make a run, said, “My jersey is going to look great on you! Do you want a home or away one? I think white might be a good color on you.”
The other part of the wager (which I stupidly came up with because I was confident I would win) is that I also have to wear his jersey as a dress when the Mavs play the Knicks.
I shot back, “I can’t wait to hear you give me a shout-out on national TV. When’s your first game, again? November 1?”
Considering Kidd started his career in Dallas in the mid-90s as part of the “Three-J’s” (along with Jim Jackson and Jamal Mashburn), I was curious what he thought about Miami’s three-headed monster with LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh.
“Man, they’ll be the team to beat, but you know, I just want to beat the Lakers. That’s all.”
I nodded emphatically.
As it happened, he shot a 78, his best round at TPC Scottsdale, which he frequently plays with his usual foursome — former NBA players Eddie Johnson and Frank Johnson, and Brad Bayless, who’s son is Jerryd Bayless of the Portland Trailblazers. Kidd calls their weekend games “absolute chaos,” where the trash-talk never stops, clubs are thrown and yelling is the norm.
When he proudly told the starter (who knows him) his score, the starter asked, “How in the world did you shoot a 78 from the tips?”
“It was quiet,” Kidd said laughing.
But really, it was a win for me, too. I had a fantastic time and have a new golfing pal. In fact, we’re playing a rematch after he returns from vacation in a few weeks, and the plan is to get his usual foursome together. Now that will be a story to tell.
Oh, you’re probably wondering where that video is. Well, here you go — watch as I begrudgingly admit my defeat at the hands of the great Jason Kidd as he gloats. Enjoy!