Jason Kidd on growing up around Bill Russell in Oakland, California

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The City of Oakland, California has long been a hotbed of basketball talent, the hometown of NBA and ABA greats like Bill Russell, Paul Silas, Antonio Davis, Jim Hadnot, and later, Cliff Robinson, Drew Gooden, Damian Lillard, and Jason Kidd. And it was a tight-knit community that Kidd opened up about in an interview with Andscape’s Marc J. Spears from 2017.

“It’s underrated,” said the Dallas Mavericks head coach to Spears of his childhood home, now back in the spotlight with rising twin Overtime Elite prospects Amen and Ausar Thompson. “We don’t get the attention that New York or L.A. gets,” he added.

“But there are a lot of talented guys who have made it to the highest level of basketball, a lot of guys who didn’t make it who didn’t get the light they have deserved at a high level.”

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Among those West Coast luminaries, Kidd had the honor of growing up around not only ABA legend Jim Hadnot, but his good friend and Celtics Hall of Fame big man Bill Russell.

“My godfather was Jim Hadnot,” explained the Mavs coach. “He was best friends with Bill Russell.”

“So as a kid I got to see these two 7-foot guys that I was scared to death of,” he related.

“When (Russell) sat in a chair his knees went to his chin. His voice was very raspy and deep. I was always scared. Mr. Hadnot was the same. They were like brothers. They were almost twins seeing two 7-footers sitting together watching TV … It was cool. Those guys were talking basketball. I didn’t have no idea what basketball was at the time.”

“I just remember my dad talking about Mr. Russell, how good he was, and what he meant to Oakland,” added Kidd.

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We’re inclined to agree with Kidd that Oakland should indeed be held in higher regard for its contributions to the sport.

With two Celtics greats to their name in Russell and Paul Silas — and nearly a third, had Hadnot been cut by Boston.

It’s practically part of the fabric of Celtics lore as well, as the franchise would be almost unrecognizable today without the contributions of Russell and Silas, the two biggest names to come out of the Bay Area for Boston.

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Story originally appeared on Celtics Wire

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