This Kidd is Growing Up Fast

Updated: March 12, 2014



Question: The first month at your new job, in a role you never had before, how did you do?  I thought so.


It still seems that the jury, mostly fickle fans, is still out for Jason Kidd.  If you haven’t noticed,  Kidd has evolved into a pretty good coach during his rookie season.  To think that he would have hit the ground running without failure was foolish for many Net fans, myself included.

I’ll be the first to admit that I was very concerned how this season would play out when the team was sitting at 10-21.  Embarrassments were piling up quickly: from serving a two game suspension for a DUI incident, to Soda-Gate, to daily reports, to routine 25-point first half deficits, to nationally televised “no-shows” on TNT and ESPN.  Things appeared to be on the brink of a complete implosion despite players preaching patience as the “process” was playing out.  With Billy King sitting closer to the bench, it only seemed like a matter of time until the plug would be pulled from this experiment and Kidd would be put out of his misery.

To say that things didn't get off to a good start would be an understatement.

To say that things didn’t get off to a good start would be an understatement.

Watching the Brooklyn Nets through the first 31 games was not only frustrating, but sad.  Here we had the most beloved player in franchise history being turned into public enemy number one for the fan base.  Constant complaining of too much sitting down was usually accompanied by the #FireKidd hashtag on Twitter.  For some fans, their fond memories of him transforming a pathetic team 12 years ago felt as if they were being washed away by this new Kidd Era.  This is the downside of the “microwave society” we live in today where patience is teetering on the brink of extinction and instant gratification is not just expected, but demanded.

Well after a tumultuous start, it looks as if Kidd has figured out a thing or two about coaching basketball.  Everyone learns differently, so perhaps sitting down was the most comfortable place for him to soak up the game from a new perspective.  After sixty games, has Kidd showed much improvement?  Of course!  Is he a finished product? Obviously not, but let’s revisit that question a year or so from now.

Considering where the Nets are now, from where they were, is a testament to his ability to lead.  When his players weren’t competing, he took a bold stance by benching former All-Stars and future Hall of Famers for the likes of D-Leaguers and a rookie– a page right out of Coach Norman Dale’s playbook.

Many mocked the beard look at first, but it was a brilliant way of rebranding his image.  Do you still look at him and think of him as a player?  Me neither.  As for the no-tie fashion statement, remember that this is a superstitious person we are talking about.  Don’t you remember the blown kisses before each free-throw attempt?

Did the Lawrence Frank incident go down ugly?  Absolutely!  But perhaps Kidd realized that his credibility as a coach would be compromised as long as a former authority figure loomed in the background, talking over him at practices and publicly second guessing his decisions.

When the Nets first hired Kidd, prior to the big deal with Boston, I believed that it was the right move.  (Making the Case for Jason Kidd)  He was a unique star player as his game was predicated on making others better.  Just like Mikki Moore and Lucious Harris before them, Mirza Teletovic and Shaun Livingston have grown as players by Kidd putting them in a position to be successful.

Many times this calendar year, the Nets have resembled those Kidd-led teams from a decade ago with unselfish play, crisp ball movement, ferocious defense, and resiliency.  Think about the wins against Oklahoma City (down 16 in the second half), Miami (without Deron Williams), and more recently against Chicago and Memphis, where Kidd clearly outcoached Tom Thibodeau.  Even the MLK Day slaughtering at Madison Square Garden was something I hadn’t seen since bowling ball passes led fast breaks.

The overall feel around this club is totally different from where it was earlier this season and a year ago.  Do setbacks still occur like what we saw in the Oklahoma City rematch and recently against Portland and Boston?  Yes they do, but maybe old habits just die hard.  At least we don’t have to dread the third quarter anymore.

It took some time, but Kidd is once again the confident leader of the Nets.

It took some time, but Kidd is once again the confident leader of the Nets.

A leader as a player has morphed into a leader as a coach.  It was he who challenged the media when asked if Jason Collins would be a distraction when he said, “it’s up to you guys if this will be a distraction”.  Since then the media has seemed to have moved on.

It’s time to respect our coach and acknowledge the great job that he has done for the past three months.  He was the one who reconfigured the lineup and found a winning combination after Brook Lopez went down.

So when a disappointing loss is followed up with a “these things happen”, take his word.  In case you have forgotten, they happened when he was a player but now he is the one managing the egos of 12 individuals.  Do you expect him to trash his squad?  Give him credit and trust that he is making the right move in the grand scheme of things.  To micromanage every little decision is foolish and unfair, especially for a rookie.

Are the Nets better off today than on December 31, 2013?  You can thank your team’s leader, who found a way to keep the team together.

It’s quite amazing how quickly this Kidd is growing up.