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Gary Payton says Jason Kidd was the ‘first LeBron’

Gary Payton, Jason Kidd, LeBron James

Being two of the best point guards of their time, Gary Payton and former Dallas Mavericks star Jason Kidd were fierce competitors. However, despite their on-court rivalry, the mutual respect they had for each other was undeniable.

Payton holds Kidd in such high regard that in a recent interview with ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk, the 50-year-old claimed that Kidd was LeBron James even before there was LeBron James.

“People don’t know, J was the first LeBron coming out of high school,” Payton sad. “He was good. Really, really good. In the Bay Area, that’s what all the talk was about — J-Kidd.”

Like Kidd, Payton himself is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area. As he said, he, along with the entire community, already saw the potential of Kidd even before he set foot in the NBA. In fact, Kidd was already making waves as a teenager out of high school.

Coming out of St. Joseph Notre Dame High School in Alameda, California, Kidd was practically already a star. Similar to James, the basketball world already took notice of Kidd at a very young age, though this was in the early ’90s when social media did not even exist.

Despite the vast difference in stature — Kidd was 6-foot-4, 210 pounds as a youngster versus LeBron’s 6-foot-8, 250-pound frame — the comparison has some legitimacy. In his prime, Kidd was a triple-double threat on any given night. At one point in his career, the 10-time All-Star averaged 13.0 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 9.2 assists as a member of the New Jersey Nets.

LeBron James is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime type of athlete, but if we had to choose a player from the previous generation who personified the Los Angeles Lakers superstar, Kidd isn’t a terrible choice.