What makes a great basketball coach?
Is it the “run and gun” type offense that keeps coaches like Mike D’ Antoni employed?
How about the grittyness of a Gregg Popovich, embodying a grind it out playing style while stressing defense and toughness?
Last week, the Brooklyn Nets proved that in today’s N.B.A., it’s neither.
With coaches like George Karl, Lionel Hollins, Brian Shaw or even the wavering Boston Celtics’ Doc Rivers available for hire, Nets GM Billy King and provocative owner Mikhail Prokhorov chose to hire former New Jersey Nets player Jason Kidd.
Considering the ten day gap that existed between Kidd’s retirement from the New York Knicks and his hiring in Brooklyn, Kidd had little time to prepare for his transition into the coaching realm of the N.B.A.
Kidd barely left himself enough time to get out of the tri-state area to celebrate his illustrious 19 year career that will no doubt end in the Hall of Fame.
With all that being said, Kidd has recognized that in today’s business world, it is all about who you know!
Having been the savior for a struggling Nets franchise in New Jersey as a player, opening night of next season at the Barclays Center may mark one of the only times in sports history that a head coach gets a louder ovation than any of the team’s starting line-up.
Kidd’s connection with the franchise will attract fans from the New Jersey era that may have felt betrayed by the team’s relocation to Brooklyn. Although Kidd burned the Nets at times last year during the team’s heated battles with the cross-town rival Knicks, fans of Brooklyn will no doubt love Kidd controlling their sidelines.
Throw in the close relationship Kidd has with notorious coach-killer Deron Williams, and this move appears to be a slam dunk!
Or maybe a no-look behind the back pass in the case of Kidd.
While this seems to be a match made in N.B.A. heaven, Kidd’s glaring lack of coaching experience is tough to over-look.
Kidd is joining a very small list of players who have joined the coaching ranks directly following their retirement from playing in the N.B.A. Both sides acknowledge his inexperience, and are hoping the leadership skills Kidd developed as a championship point-guard in the league will compensate.
Granted, Kidd is one of the greatest floor generals in the Association’s history. But leading a group of teammates while in a matching jersey is much different than in a suit.
Many successful point-guards of the past have been involved in the same type of coaching experiment, highlighted by the success of current Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson and low-lighted by the former New York Knicks disaster of a coach in Isaiah Thomas.
Considering the lack of stability in the Brooklyn Nets’ head coaching position this past year, Kidd is a risky hire that could result in the same short-lived fate of former Net coaches Avery Johnson and P.J. Carlisimo.
While Kidd’s hire is somewhat warranted, I feel it is yet another publicity stunt from an attention seeking franchise that does not need any more of the lime-light.
In my mind, the Nets can be viewed as the cool kids in school. With a Russian billionaire for an owner, a court side seat reserved for hip-hop mogul Jay-Z at every home game, and a starting line-up full of top rated N.B.A. superstars, a head coach like Brian Shaw simply does not make the cut in a crew like Brooklyn’s.
Like a pick-up game at recess, Kidd has been chosen first over his class mates purely out of a popularity contest. As many of us know however, the coolest kid in class is not always the best choice.
One of the oldest players in the N.B.A. has quickly become one of the youngest, most inexperienced coaches in the league. Kidd must use his recent playing days to his advantage, allowing him to relate to his players like no other coach in the game can.
This may be just what the Nets organization needs to successfully get through to their on the court leader, Deron Williams. If Kidd can lead his Nets back to the playoffs, it will not only make for an amazing story, but mark the beginning of a new era in Brooklyn and the franchises’ first sense of stability from their head coaching position.
If not, Prokhorov, Kidd, and Jay-Z will head back to class wondering yet again, how the nerds got the best of them.