Tom Tolbert & Ray Ratto break down Jason Kidd's hiring in Brooklyn
"It makes no sense. It makes perfect sense. And nobody has even the slightest idea of how it will play out." -- Ray Ratto on Jason Kidd's hiring in Brooklyn (USA TODAY IMAGES)
Jason Kidd has never been made to hear “no” in his entire basketball career. Not in middle school in Oakland, not in high school in Alameda, not in college in Berkeley, and not in Phoenix, Dallas, New Jersey, or New York.
Thus, we should not be as surprised as we are that he went from retiring player to head coach in eight days.
[RELATED: Kidd returns to Nets, this time as head coach]
Eight, do you hear me? Eight.
Because even he is getting accustomed to the alien sound of "Jason Kidd, Brooklyn Nets head coach," it is absurd to parse his coaching skills because he hasn’t even had his inaugural press conference yet. It will be equally idiotic to judge him off that presser. But it is all there is of his coaching experience, and the fact that we will see it all unfold on a big stage before a demanding owner makes Kidd’s hiring the most riveting of a hyperactive offseason.
He is expected to influence and enhance Deron Williams. He is expected to hone Brook Lopez’ skills. He is expected to take a half-court team and turn it through the addition of pace into an attractive team a la Golden State. And he is expected to learn a new team after only a week.
And he is fully expected to extend the honeymoon of Brooklyn’s new building and fan base. Much is being demanded of him by owner Mikhail Prokhorov, because he was the face of the Nets’ franchise once upon a time, and is therefore responsible for team culture, entertainment value and success.
Compared to that, the other first-time head coaches hired this spring – Mike Budenholzer in Atlanta, Steve Clifford in Charlotte, Jeff Hornacek in Phoenix and Michael Malone in Sacramento – have it easy. They did not get the benefit of Kidd’s past, but they also won’t be dogged by it either.
Kidd is, in sum, all risk, and potentially all reward – the perfect metaphor for Prokhorov himself. These are intrepid times in the NBA, after all, and more owners are stretching the definition of what makes a coach – opting for home runs that may strike out rather than solid hits. Again, Golden State is a template, as Mark Jackson remade the culture of the Warriors without any prior coaching experience.
Kidd, though, won’t be compared only to Jackson. He will also be compared to Bill Russell, and Magic Johnson, and Don Nelson, and Dolph Schayes, and Johnny Kerr, and all the other former players who went directly from jocks to suits. Some of them thrived, more of them failed. But none of them went from “spending more time with the family” to “spending less time with the family” so quickly or decisively.
Of course, people will wonder why Kidd, the St. Joseph Notre Dame Nigh School legend, got the job over Brian Shaw, who played at SJND’s greatest and most enduring archrival, Bishop O’Dowd. But that is already fading as a local curiosity. The story is never about the guy who didn’t get the gig.
This is about Jason Kidd, Instant Coach. He will have Lawrence Frank, who was the Nets’ coach as recently as 2010, as his chief adjutant, and he might also tap former Trail Blazers, Clippers and Kings assistant Jim Eyen, who played at St. Joseph’s in the 1970s.
But the story is never about the guys who help the guy, either. This is the first true Hire Of The Decade in the NBA, as mesmerizing an idea in its way as Jim Harbaugh with the San Francisco 49ers, or Davey Johnson with the Washington Nationals, or Patrick Roy with the Colorado Avalanche.
It makes no sense. It makes perfect sense. And nobody has even the slightest idea of how it will play out. Who could ask for anything more?