point guard. Michael attended St. Patrick Academy in Elizabeth, a Catholic high school with a strong basketball program that had produced Samuel Dalembert and Al Harrington.
At St. Patrick’s, Michael teamed with Kyrie Irving, who transferred as a junior from Montclair Kimberly Academy. As a junior in 2009–10, Michael earned Second-Team All-America recognition, and after the season was part of the gold medal-winning Under-17 squad at the FIBA World Championships in Germany. Heavily recruited by a number of top-flight college programs, Michael decided to join his U-17 teammate Marquis Teague at the University of Kentucky, which had a solid track record of preparing players for the pros.
On the April day Michael signed a letter of intent to attend Kentucky, his uncle Darrin collapsed in cardiac arrest. Michael vowed to look after Darrin’s son, Deante, and from that point forward became laser-focused on making it to the NBA as quickly as possible. Michael added the Kidd family name to his own to honor Darrin.
Michael’s senior year brought one accolade after another. He was a First Team All-American, Co-MVP of the McDonald’s All-Star Game with James Michael McAdoo, and ESPN’s Mr. Basketball USA for 2011. He was also one of the storylines in HBO’s documentary Prayer for a Perfect Season.
Coach John Calipari knew Michael would likely be a one-and-done player, so while Michael concentrated on growing his game, Calipari looked for ways his freshman small forward could take the Wildcats to the Final Four. Michael was an instant hit. He was big and quick enough to guard almost anyone on the floor, and was mature beyond his years when it came to involving teammates in the offensive flow. Michael was good as a starter and effective off the bench. The only weakness in his game was an inconsistent jumper.
The bigger the game, the better Michael played. He had excellent outings against Kansas, UNC and Louisville, collecting 24 points and 19 rebounds against the Cardinals. In all, he averaged 11.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, and was named First team All-SEC and a Second Team All-American.
The Wildcats entered the NCAA Tournament ranked #1 in the nation with a 32–2 record. Their only losses were a buzzer-beater to Indiana and a defeat at the hands of Vanderbilt in the SEC title game. The Vanderbilt loss was a valuable wake-up call, for Calipari’s young stars had a bit too much swagger to take March Madness as seriously as they should have.
The humbled Wildcats bore down and breezed past Western Kentucky, Iowa State, Indiana and Baylor to earn a berth in the Final Four. Kentucky defeated Louisville in the semifinal, and Kansas in the final—taking rematches against both schools to win the National Championship. Michael was the difference-maker in the first half of the Kansas game, scoring all 11 of his points and demonstrating an ability to create his own shots against a good defense.
As expected, Michael joined fellow freshman Anthony Davis in declaring for the 2012 NBA Draft. They went 1–2 to the New Orleans Hornets and Charlotte Bobcats, while teammate Terrence Jones also went in Round One and Doron Lamb and Darius Miller were Second Round picks. Michael began his rookie year as the youngest player in the NBA. He notched his first double-double in Charlotte’s November win over the Mavs, scoring 25 points and pulling down 12 rebounds. Only one payer in NBA history, LeBron James, had a 25–12 night at a younger age.
Michael averaged 9 points and 5.8 rebounds in his first year as a pro and was a Second Team All-Rookie pick. His second-year numbers were about the same, but he showed signs of things to come with a 22-point outburst in the playoffs against the Heat. Michael’s third NBA season (which saw the Bobcats change their name to Hornets, and the Hornets become the Pelicans) saw his numbers bump to 10.9 points and 7.6 rebounds. Although he missed a couple of weeks with a sore foot, he retooled his jumper with the help of assistant Mark Price.
After the season, Michael signed a 4-year extension with the Hornets. Six weeks later, he separated his right shoulder in a preseason game against the Magic. The team initially announced that he would likely miss the entire season, but he made a faster-than-expected return in January 2016. Unfortunately, he only lasted seven games before he had to undergo surgery on the labrum in the same shoulder.
Michael was healthy and productive in 2016–17, starting 81 games and averaging 91 points and 6.4 rebounds per game for the Hornets. He shot a career-high 78.4 percent from the free throw line. The team went 36–46, missing the playoffs by five wins.