BERKELEY -- Jason Kidd says not now, not yet, almost certainly not after this season and probably not even next season.
Retire? How could he abandon the stage that is and always has been his coziest home? Why would he, even while bracing for his 40th birthday, turn his back on the lifestyle he has earned to drift ever so cautiously into the great unknown?
If the basketball court was Kidd's personal retreat during boyhood in the East Bay, it has been his movable sanctuary as an adult. So he will delay, for as long as he can, his reluctant entrance into the petrifying uncertainty of life without hoops.
``I signed a three-year deal, never thinking about how long I want to play,'' Kidd says. ``I'll go until my mind and body come to agreement that we have to move on. There are some days when the mind is tired but the body feels good. There are days when the body doesn't feel good but the mind says, `let's go.' They haven't come to agreement.''
Conceding there are nights when he feels 30 but mornings when he feels 50, Kidd on Monday night joined his New York Knicks teammates to face the Warriors on the court at Oracle Arena, a place as familiar to Kidd as any member of the home team.
The arena off 66th Avenue is where Kidd evolved from the subject of local buzz to full national legend, being featured in Sports Illustrated at a time when kids rarely rated such lofty status.
Oracle, then known as the Coliseum Arena, Kidd's house while at St. Joseph High in Alameda, where he led the Pilots to consecutive state championships, and remained his place during two years at Cal, which made back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances — including a trip to the Sweet Sixteen during Jason's freshman season.
All of which provided the backdrop for Kidd to hold a news conference to declare himself eligible for the 1994 NBA Draft. He shed tears that day, many tears, partly because his then-coach, Todd Bozeman, was sobbing.
Mostly, though, Kidd wept because he was leaving his family, that which reared him and that which watched him grow up. This was his farewell to the Bay Area.
Though he was at Cal to receive an award presented by the school's African American Studies Department, Kidd has spent the past 19 years mostly as a familial visitor, a friend among the enemy, wearing the jerseys of five NBA teams. He was drafted by Dallas, traded to Phoenix, then to New Jersey and back to Dallas — where he won a championship ring in 2011 — before landing as a free agent in New York last summer.
The 6-foot-4 point guard, a 10-time All-Star, also has worn a sixth jersey, that of USA basketball, in which he has won two Olympics gold medals and compiled a 56-0 record.
Kidd's career, historically and statistically, presents excessive credentials for the Hall of Fame: No. 2 all-time in assists and steals, No. 3 in triple-doubles and 3-pointers made. Kidd is the only player to amass 17,000 points, 12,000 assists and 8,000 rebounds.
``There is a checklist when you get drafted,'' Kidd says. ``You want to be an All-Star and be mentioned as one of the best. Then you want to be the assists leader, and be among the best in triple-doubles. And as you get older, you keep adding to the list.
`` . . . I don't know if there's anything I haven't seen in basketball. I've seen a whole lot of ups and downs to get where I'm regarded as one of the best. And now I'm coming off the bench. It's all humbling. I've been blessed. It's been exciting.''
We have watched, up close and from a distance, Kidd's trials and tribulations and triumphs, the international perfection and NBA pinnacle and even those regrettable moments that remind us there can be many layers of complexity to such a life.
Another such moment occurred last July. Nearly 12 years after undergoing counseling after a domestic abuse incident with his first wife, Joumana, Jason was found passed out in his Cadillac Escalade, which had come to a stop at the base of a tree, and arrested in a New York suburb for suspicion of driving while intoxicated.
``Clearly, it was a mistake and I owned up to it,'' he says. ``It happened and I'll have to learn from it. We all make mistakes, some aren't public and some are. The most important thing, I hope, is that I learn and that, hopefully, others learn from my mistake.''
Kidd, whose birthday is March 23, has recovered to spend the season as a trusted lieutenant of Knicks coach Mike Woodson. Jason has started and he has come off the bench. He has, over the course of 60 games, defended every position except center.
After pushing Dallas to the championship two years ago with his postseason defense on Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, there was the older, slower but still incredibly crafty Kidd last week again facing Durant.
``All you can do,'' he says, lifting his eyebrows, ``is hold your breath.''
That's only fair. Dozens of Kidd's opponents have spent two decades holding their breath, and millions of fans have had theirs stolen.