The fact that Jason Kidd is looking to start the second part of his NBA career as a head coach comes as no surprise at all. What is shocking is how quickly Kidd decided to throw his hat in the ring.
Kidd announced his pursuit of the Nets coaching vacancy this weekend and is now considered to be a serious candidate for the position after meeting with Nets GM Billy King on Monday. Kidd is obviously conscience of the fact that he has no head coaching experience, which is the reason why part of his pitch to the Nets will be that he will bring in Lawrence Frank, to serve as an experienced assistant to run the team along side him. As reported by ESPN’s Marc Stein Lawrence Frank spoke highly of Kidd’s plans to enter the NBA’s head coaching ranks:
Kidd’s plan to bring in an experienced assistant certainly has people taking his candidacy more seriously, although maybe people should start taking Kidd’s coaching plans more seriously regardless of who he has patrolling the sidelines next to him. The notion that Kidd needs to sit at home watching tape for 2 years before being considered a serious candidate is nothing short of preposterous, and here why:
1. He has the respect of the players
Anyone who has ever coached any sport on any level will tell you that the biggest part of being a great coach is not X’s and O’s, it’s having good relationships with your players. I am hard pressed to think of anyone else who is more respected by his peers than Jason Kidd. The reverence that players, young and old, around the league show for Jason Kidd is unmatched.
As a member of the New York Knicks this season Kidd was regularly considered one of the teams vocal leaders in the locker room, despite being with the team for one season. Ask yourself this – If you were a 25 year old basketball player would you be more inclined to listen to Jason Kidd or some 50 year old assistant that has spent the last 10 years on the end of team X’s bench who you’ve never heard of. (Sorry 50 year old assistants)
2. Familiarity with the leagues officials
This is a very underrated skill, that often gets overlooked.
Watch any of the leagues top coaches and you will notice that they spend 90% of their energy during games “working” officials. It is a huge part of the game within the game that we rarely speak about. NBA head coaches regularly talk to officals during the game or during time outs about missed calls in an effort to get the pendulum swinging back in their teams favor.
Now let me make something completely clear. First year head coaches that did not play in the league have to earn that respect. Sure, they talk just like the veteran coaches, but they’re definitely not heard as much, and certainly get T’d up quicker when disagreeing with a refs point of view. It’s like any walk of life, if you have repor with someone, you are propbably going to get the benifit of the doubt more often than not. Jason Kidd has that repor.
The mutual respect that Jason Kidd shares with the leagues officials is evident from watching them interact during games. And it is a certainty that the built in relationships Jason Kidd has with the league officials would be an asset if he ultimately becomes the Brooklyn Nets next head coach.
3. Lifelong student of the game
The biggest knock on Jason Kidd’s candidacy as a head coach comes down to one thing – lack of experience. While this is a very valid point, I think Jason Kidd actually has that experience, and here’s why:
We often see that great players do not make great coaches, regardless of the sport. Usually the reason is simple, great players had something that the average player does not, and that “something” cannot be taught. Michael Jordan cannot teach his players to be Michael Jordan. Wayne Gretzky failed miserably as a head coach in Phoenix because the greatness he was born with cannot be learned in a drill. The same can be said for Isaiah Thomas, Magic Johnson, and a long list of other great players who have failed as head coaches. It’s rare that the Don Mattingly’s of the world make great coaches, yet the Joe Torre’s and Joe Girardi’s, who were average players at best, excel in these roles.
I do not believe Jason Kidd fits into that box. Jason Kidd, who will go down as one of the greatest floor generals in NBA history, never got it done with athleticism. He couldn’t shoot (Until much later in his career), couldn’t jump, he actually couldn’t do much of anything that would jump off the screen as far as athleticism goes. But boy could he play. Jason Kidd was great because he possessed one of the most overused terms in player analysis – Basketball IQ. Without outstanding physical gifts Jason Kidd was able to make every player who had the privilege of sharing the court with him better. In a nutshell, Jason Kidd understood the game better than anyone else of his generation.
You would be correct if you had doubts about Kidd as a coach based on his lack of experience, but you would be a fool if you were to question his knowledge and understanding of the game of basketball. More importantly, his understanding on how to make average players excel, by putting them in roles that they can perform in. I believe it is this aspect of Jason Kidd’s basketball resume that should far outweigh the fact that he has not yet served as a head coach.
Under most circumstances NBA teams hate to take risks, and for that reason it is very possible that Jason Kidd will get passed over for the Nets job. However, it is possible that Nets majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov may just be the guy to make such a move. Personally I hope so, because Jason Kidd on the sidelines for the Nets next season would make the NBA just a little more interesting for everyone.