Nobody on Team USA is going to tell Jason Kidd to act his age. Especially when he's having so much fun playing basketball -- and playing at such a high level.
This is the 35-year-old Kidd's last hurrah playing for his country. He already has a gold medal from the 2000 Olympics, and he fully expects to earn a second gold next month when the 2008 Games get under way in Beijing.
"As long as I can play at a high level and give something to the team, I want to be out there," he said Tuesday after Team USA's training camp session at Valley High School. "It's always a great honor to represent your country, and it's always a thrill to play with guys this talented."
Kidd is the elder statesman of the Americans. He also happens to be the starting point guard, and his teammates love playing alongside him.
"Of course they do, because they want the ball," Kidd said with a laugh. "And they're going to get it."
Kidd's pass-first, shoot-second philosophy makes sense, given there are so many weapons on this team. He can find Kobe Bryant on the wing, get it up the floor in transition to LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, or feed Dwight Howard in the post. With that kind of talent, why would Kidd want to shoot?
Last year, Kidd averaged just 1.8 points as Team USA earned an Olympic berth by winning the FIBA Americas championship. But he also averaged a team-leading 4.6 assists while playing just 22 minutes per game. His limited court time allowed him to remain fresh, and he came out of the competition feeling good physically.
"As long as I could get up and down and help these young guys with my experience, I was coming back," Kidd said. "I felt great at the end (of the tournament)."
Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski said he plans to use Kidd in the same fashion next month in Beijing.
"I think it's important we retain the continuity we built last summer," Krzyzewski said. "Obviously, Jason's an important part of that. He's the one who gets us going."
Kidd said he might be tempted to shoot a little more because he knows teams probably will leave him open to concentrate on Bryant, Anthony and James.
"Maybe I'll lead the team in scoring," he said jokingly. "But I may need to look for my shot more because I think teams are going to forget about me shooting and try and stop me from passing."
Kidd is old, but he's not the oldest U.S. Olympian going to Beijing. Swimmer Dara Torres is 41, and Kidd remembers watching her compete in 2000 when both were in Sydney, Australia.
"She represents the older group, the older bracket," Kidd said. "I'm in that older bracket. I'm thrilled for her story. I think it's great. Not just for her. But it shows if you put your mind to it and work hard, it all pays off."
• NOTES -- James suffered a slightly sprained right foot during Tuesday's scrimmage with the USA Basketball Select Team when he landed on Kevin Durant's foot. James will be re-evaluated today but is expected to play in Friday's exhibition against Canada at the Thomas & Mack Center. ... Kevin Love's Achilles' tendon continued to give him problems, and he was sent home to rest. Love was on the Select roster.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913.