Jason Kidd's retirement lasted a mere nine days before he was named head coach of the
New Jersey Brooklyn Nets. Even in his twilight years he was one of the smartest players in the game. He certainly has potential to be a solid head coach, but can he prove that for the first time in his career he'll be just as smart off the court?
This time around, Kidd actually inherits a team with enough talent to go 49-33, and enough holes in its game to get Avery Johnson and P.J. Carlesimo fired.
Fired? Yeah, Kidd knows a thing or three about coaches getting fired. As a remarkably unselfish player on the court, and one who could be impossibly selfish off it, his own body count extends back to his college days at Cal. Kidd finished his first career with more blood on his hands than Macbeth. Mike Woodson might be breathing a little easier now; someone in position to know said Kidd wasn't crazy about his X's and O's, either.
Only now Kidd gets to find out that this coaching thing isn't quite as easy as it appears. There's a lot of grinding involved, a lot of daily tasks your average Hall of Fame player wouldn't want to deal with. A head coach can't hide from the news media when he's having a bad day. A head coach can't fake a migraine and boycott a game when feeling unappreciated.
A head coach can't get arrested on a drunken-driving charge in the Hamptons, not when such a serious lapse in judgment would call into question his ability to lead.
Chances are, Jason Kidd understands all of this. Chances are, he's convinced he can impose his will on Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson the way he imposed his will on Kenyon Martin, Kerry Kittles and Keith Van Horn in a different life.
The Nets were smart to gamble a second time on Kidd, too, at least when it was obvious Jackson and Rivers were off the board. Brooklyn proved in the first-round series with Chicago that it still lacks the competitive fire required of a legitimate contender. Kidd can embody that fighting spirit, at least until he passes it down to Williams.
"He has the fire in the belly we need," Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov said in a statement, "and has achieved as a player everything the Brooklyn Nets are striving to achieve. We believe he will lead us there."
Was anyone else quietly hoping he'd retire for a few years and then take over once Mike Montgomery retires?
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