By Sean Wagner-McGough | Staff
It’s not everyday Isiah Thomas and Jason Kidd are in the same room. It happened on Sunday night though, right here at Cal.
In Memorial Stadium, the two NBA greats lent their voices in an effort to raise money for the African American Studies department and the campus for the Renaissance Night Gala.
While the two stars were tasked to speaking to the guests at the Gala, the two were made available to a shockingly small media gathering. Both their messages were simple throughout the gala: value your education.
“We as athletes, celebrities, role-models — whatever it is you want to call us — we do have a responsibility to give back and to promote and present the right message,” Thomas said. “And the right message is: education is important and needs to be valued again.”
The surprisingly soft-spoken Thomas was also eager to talk about his alma mater, Indiana. When asked about the current landscape of college basketball as March Madness draws nearer, the former Hoosier could barely contain his excitement for their national championship chances.
“I still wear the red and white,” Thomas said. “I’m hoping Indiana still goes all the way.”
Thomas, who is currently studying at UC Berkeley for his Masters degree in education, would later add that he hoped Cal would be the other team in the finals.
For Kidd, he couldn’t have been happier to return back to his old stomping grounds. However, upon his return, it became evident that some aspects may have changed since 1994, the year he left for the NBA.
“When I was here, people were walking around naked, which I don’t think they do anymore,” Kidd said with a wide-grin on his face. “You were always going to see something different on campus.”
Like Thomas, Kidd was also eager to speak about the importance of education. For the 39 year-old point guard, he’s realized the value of an education even more now that his 19-year NBA career is slowly coming to a close.
And while the New York Knickerbocker is focused on basketball for the time being, Kidd doesn’t want to throw away a life of sports after his playing days are over. In fact, the one time Golden Bear aspires to be in the front office for a professional franchise.
“For me, after basketball, you have to something else — your next chapter in life,” Kidd said. “I would love to go into coaching or front office of a professional sport, not just basketball. Maybe football or baseball.”
“I’d love the opportunity to put the pieces of the puzzle together to have a winning team.”
In attendance was Cal basketball star Allen Crabbe. As the season winds down for the Bears, the junior guard will decide to either turn pro next season or return to Berkeley for his senior season.
Kidd himself had a similar decision to make after his sophomore season in 1994, before ultimately opting to declare for the NBA draft.
When asked about any advice Kidd would give Crabbe if the young star called up the veteran, Kidd asserted that Crabbe needed to gather all the information and make a decision that he’s entirely comfortable with.
“(He needs to be) making sure that it’s in his heart,” Kidd said.
But the advice Kidd would give Crabbe was not just for the current Cal men’s basketball star; it was relevant to any student athlete at Cal. His words of wisdom were just as simple as the theme of education throughout the night: Enjoy the moment, because it’ll end before you know it.
“Be patient….and really enjoy the moment and the experience at Cal,” Kidd said. “It’s something you’ll never forget.”