Golf is Kidd’s game, but is it Bibby’s? |

Golf is Kidd’s game, but is it Bibby’s?

Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor
Dan Thrift/ Tahoe TribuneNew Jersey Nets guard Jason Kidd reacts to his tee shot, which went into the pone trees, during the American Century Celebrity -Am tournament Thursday at Edgewood.

New Jersey Nets’ Jason Kidd knows Sacramento Kings point guard Mike Bibby thrives under pressure on the basketball court, but the All-Star guard isn’t sure his friend has the experience yet to deal with the tension of tournament golf.

Bibby made his American Century Celebrity Golf Championship debut during a celebrity-amateur tournament Thursday at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course, but thundershowers denied him a chance to play a full 18-hole round.

“This is a lot different than shooting a free throw,” Kidd said during a press conference. “He loves a pressure situation, so he’ll handle that fine, but this will be a little different. This has a club and not a basketball. The ball is a little bit smaller, but he’ll be fine.

“He’ll shoot 120 and he’ll set his goals a little bit higher next year.”

Kidd never shot that high as a tournament rookie in 1995, averaging nearly 102 strokes per round. In his past two tournament appearances, Kidd averaged 87 and 90.

In a pretournament teleconference, Bibby revealed that his best round is 84, but his followers should remain alert.

“When I’m out there hitting the ball, people might want to duck and stuff,” he joked.

Kidd good-naturedly played along with discussion of him once possessing the tournament’s worst 54-hole score (305). But Charles Barkley, Jonny Moseley, Jesse Ventura and Chris Webber have since sent that infamous record skyward.

In fact, Bibby’s teammate, Webber, now has that unwanted distinction at 379.

“Chris has his record, so he’s probably talked Michael into coming up here, telling him how easy it is, so he can have his record broken,” Kidd said.

But Kidd didn’t get off the hook completely. His 7.9 handicap was scrutinized, especially since his best round to date is a 5-over-par 77.

“Somebody’s lying. Somebody messed up,” he said.

Kidd continued to play along as the questions became tougher: “Who would be that somebody?”

“I don’t know. I’ve gotta go find out who put that in,” Kidd said.

The former California guard finally exhausted the subject by answering, “What’s more accurate? I’ll take 18,” said Kidd, who will be striving to break 80 this weekend.

The questions finally steered toward basketball and his unlikely trade from the Phoenix Suns to New Jersey prior to last season. With Kidd running the show, the Nets advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time before being swept in four games by the Lakers.

“I don’t think it’s been crazy,” he said. “I think it’s been a learning experience in the sense of understanding that things are not always as bad as they look or seem. You’ve got to play the cards that you’re dealt, because you never know what you’re holding.

“The hard part was to stay positive, and help your teammates believe that they could be winners, that was the fun part.”

Now that the Nets are on top of the East, Kidd wants his young team to develop some characteristics that the Lakers possess.

“The big thing that we’re going to try to accomplish is gaining that swagger, that Lakers’ swagger,” he said. “When you gain that championship-type swagger, you can win a lot of games that you’re not supposed to win.”

That swagger is something Bibby and Kidd can share on the basketball court, but you won’t see it on the golf course.

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