Knicks: Marbury says: I'm best at point, not Kidd

Saturday, January 01, 2005

-- All week Stephon Marbury promised to be a more aggressive point guard, offensively and defensively. Apparently he intends to be aggressive in answering the media, too.

Until yesterday Marbury would always say "no comment" whenever Jason Kidd's name was mentioned. However, on the eve of the tonight's New Year's game between the Knicks and the Nets at Madison Square Garden, Marbury said he doesn't compare himself with the Nets' All-Star point guard -- because in his mind, he's the better player.

"Don't get me wrong -- I love Jason Kidd. He's a great point guard," Marbury said. "(But) how am I comparing myself to him when I think I'm the best point guard to play basketball? That doesn't make any sense. I mean, how can I sit here and compare myself to somebody if I already think I'm the best?

"I'm telling you what it is: I know I'm the best point guard in the NBA. I don't need anybody else to tell me that. When I go on the basketball court, if I think about what you're all saying, I'll lose my mind."

He was talking about all the unflattering comparisons since they were traded for each other in the summer of 2001. The Nets sent Marbury to Phoenix for Kidd and immediately ascended to the NBA elite, reaching the NBA Finals two years in a row. But Marbury said it is unfair to compare him with Kidd because their styles are so different.

"Me and Jason Kidd are two different players," Marbury said. "The way you see basketball, and the way I see it, it's not the same thing. You can't compare both of us. We don't play anything alike. We're totally different. You may feel he's better, there's another person that feels different."

Marbury, 27, is enjoying what is shaping up to be a career season. He is averaging 20.2 points and 8.6 assists while shooting 45.5 percent from the field. And he has become more of a leader, who is improving the play of his teammates.

Kidd, 31, is coming off microfracture surgery on his right knee and slowly working his way back into top shape. He is averaging 28.1 minutes, 8.3 points, six rebounds and six assists. Kidd brought career averages of 14.8 points, 9.4 assists and 6.4 rebounds into this season. And he is the NBA's active leader in triple-doubles. Marbury entered this season with career averages of 20.4 points and 8.3 assists.

But Kidd has played in 73 playoff games and seven All-Star Games. Marbury has appeared in 18 playoff games and two All-Star Games. And in current All-Star voting, Marbury is sixth among Eastern Conference guards with 151,749 votes as of yesterday. Kidd is fifth with 306,359.

"I don't care about (the voting)," Marbury said. "That stuff doesn't matter to me."

He admitted that when he was younger, playing in the All-Star Game was important to him. And he did say that "playing in the All-Star Game is always fun, because you're recognized as being one of the elite players." But he won't be disappointed if he's not among the All-Stars Feb. 20 in Denver.

"As long as I'm playing come April, (trying to) win the championship, that's the most important thing," he said.

Penny Hardaway, who has played with both Kidd (Phoenix Suns) and Marbury (Phoenix Suns and Knicks), refused to be drawn into the debate.

"I don't really like to compare them because they're two different type players," he said. "Jason is more of the playmaker who looks for the pass first. And Stephon is more of a scoring point guard who is very aggressive on the offensive end. ... They're two different types of guards; they're both really good at what they do."

At Nets practice, Richard Jefferson danced a bit, too, although he did place Marbury in the upper echelon with Kidd.

"I think right now, (Marbury), Steve Nash and Dwyane Wade are playing at an extremely high level," Jefferson said. "And he's right there with them. J-Kidd is still getting his legs underneath him. The last time I checked, if (Kidd) would have scored a few points, he would have had triple-doubles in the last two games. That's pretty impressive considering he's only playing 32, 34 minutes a night."

Kidd did not talk to the press yesterday.