All Kidding Aside

Shocked? Angered? Embarrassed? Disappointed?

It was just over a year ago that many Brooklyn Nets fans, including myself, were jubilant over the hiring of Jason Kidd to be our next head coach. Although he had no experience in that role, fans alike were confident that our greatest player would figure things out quickly and be a success. After all, this was one of the most astute basketball minds to ever walk onto the court.

Then there were the elements of nostalgia…

If you’ve been a fan of the Nets as long as I have then you will certainly know that there have been more downs than ups. We aren’t a franchise rich in glory like the Los Angeles Lakers or Boston Celtics. The Kidd Era was our Golden Age and hiring him was a trip down memory lane. The team may play in a new state, but this move connected the present and future to the past.

Nets fans were thrilled to have Kidd leading them into the future.

A year ago Nets fans were thrilled to have Kidd leading them into the future.

People may cherish Drazen Petrovic, but the Nets only accomplished a first round appearance as the six seed in back-to-back seasons. With Kidd, the Nets advanced to two consecutive NBA Finals, which was truly a remarkable feat considering they were perennial cellar-dwellers. The fact that they lost to superior opponents doesn’t diminish the achievements of those Nets teams. Without him, the Nets would never have had those experiences, and for that reason he was adored by the fan base. Now you have to wonder if any fan will ever view him in a favorable light again, which is sad because Kidd was our iconic player. He was our Michael Jordan, our Karl Malone, our Reggie Miller.

I will be the first to admit that I was blinded by his greatness on the court and tended to look the other way with the transgressions and negativity associated with him. The fact of the matter is Jason Kidd clearly has a checkered past with a documented pattern of behavior – clashes with coaches as well as multiple arrests involving domestic abuse and driving while impaired. We were naïve to think that something like this wouldn’t happen again.

In a way he is a walking paradox, a selfless player who’s actually a selfish person. The player who was known for assisting others was the same player who led a team mutiny against his college coach, Lou Campanelli. The player who was a joy to watch was the same guy who had issues with Dick Motta in Dallas and Scott Skiles in Phoenix. The player who was the ultimate teammate was the same guy who abandoned his team while faking a migraine in an effort to get traded or receive a new contract.

There is no denying Kidd is a serial coach killer. Don’t believe me just ask Campanelli, Byron Scott, Lawrence Frank, and now Larry Drew. Plus you can’t forget about Jason Kidd! Yes, Kidd was able to get himself dismissed from Brooklyn, and assuming he ultimately gets the power he desires in Milwaukee, the coach who succeeds him there will most likely be on borrowed time as well.

Speaking of Scott, it was always preposterous that a coach who led his team to consecutive NBA Finals was fired the following season while his team was in first place. Yes, the Nets were underachieving (22-20) at the time he got fired but is it safe to assume that a cohesive, veteran group could have finished the 2003-04 season with a 25-15 record under Scott? Was it really all of Frank’s leadership that prompted a 14-game winning streak the moment he took over? Could things have been different had the superstar point guard been happier? Maybe, but we’ll never know.

If you recall, Kidd was openly critical of Scott’s work ethic and preparedness when he was in charge. What’s ironic now is that Kidd is “intrigued with the higher-paying, lower-workload life of an executive” according to Adrian Wojnarowski. It’s funny how things turn out sometimes.

Two of Kidd's biggest victims.

Two of Kidd’s unfortunate victims.

It’s a shame that our franchise’s beloved player has decided to burn his bridges with the organization that bent over backwards for him. As a player they treated the Kidds as the “First Family of the Nets”. Management bolstered the roster in signing friend Rodney Rogers as well as trading for Dikembe Mutombo in an effort to challenge for a title and satisfy their star.

Kidd responded to these efforts by flirting with the Spurs shortly after they eliminated the Nets in The Finals, putting fans and management on edge that the team’s savior would leave them. In the end, Kidd resigned with the New Jersey but his “loyalty” forced Rod Thorn into signing a defective Alonzo Mourning.

Ten years later when the Nets signed him to be their head coach, the organization went above and beyond to make sure that Kidd’s transition would be a smooth and successful one. Aside from handing him a star-studded roster, Mikhail Prokhorov’s spending spree extended to the bench where Kidd was given the green light to recruit his former coach and friend in Lawrence Frank to serve as his top assistant and mentor.

Despite the fact that he was the highest paid assistant, Kidd disposed his most trusted advisor not even twenty games into the season. Talk about a convenient scapegoat, just like those darn neckties. For someone that was supposed to be vital to Kidd’s transition, Frank was tossed away in humiliating fashion – reassigned to writing daily reports which sounded like a position more suited for someone breaking into the coaching profession rather than an established, respected coach.

We should have known better, but our fond memories blinded us from the reality of Jason Kidd. His monotone voice, even-keeled demeanor, and passive-aggressiveness in front of the cameras never suggested the fits of rage that have occurred behind the scenes. The facts are he does have character issues which have resulted in multiple arrests.  He has shown to be cold blooded with a lack of regard of how his actions affect others.  Could you say his extreme anger, jealousy, and thirst for power are sociopathic? It can’t be a good thing when your actions resemble something along the lines of either Patrick Bateman from American Psycho or Frank Underwood from House of Cards.

jason kidd mug shot 1jason kidd mug shot 2jason kidd drunk club

As a life-long fan of the Nets franchise, this certainly was a kick to the groin; however, I am proud that the organization didn’t cave into Kidd’s prima donna demands. I’d rather learn the truth of my once favorite player than see a team further enable and spoil an unqualified employee. The alternative wouldn’t have felt any better.

Kidd always had the gift of seeing things develop before they actually did, and obviously he envisioned himself sitting in a corner office in the near future rather the sidelines. Had he just been patient and achieved great results in his role as a coach, he would have eventually graduated to a more prominent role with them.

The Bucks will give Kidd what he wants, but it’s only a matter of time until he ditches Milwaukee for the next thing, history says so. Perhaps by that time most of the league will finally learn what they are getting with the future Hall of Fame point guard. This is who he is and it’s foolish to think that he will change.

Kidd always had something special in New Jersey and it was supposed to continue in Brooklyn. The face of the franchise is now one that fans want to forget as his legacy will now and forever be tarnished. He may now have the money and power in Milwaukee but it’ll be unlikely that he’ll earn the respect from his peers or fans around the NBA.

As this news broke late Saturday night, one thing is for certain – Jason Kidd was definitely left with egg on his face during Sunday brunch.  He will have even more if things don’t go according to plan with his new team.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Old Hope

Help me Tony, Tim, and Ginobili. You’re my only hope.

It's desperate times for some NBA fans

It’s desperate times for some NBA fans

While the NBA Finals rematch between the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat is likely to be an epic series, there is a lot on the line for a certain population of basketball fans nationwide. The people that I am referring to are the haters of the team residing in South Beach. A third consecutive title for the Heat could be the official beginning of a dark period for many NBA fans. Yes, you read that right and no I am not on drugs.

What once felt like Tyson-Ruddock was more like Tyson-Spinks this year.

What once felt like Tyson-Ruddock was more like Tyson-Spinks this year.

In watching Miami’s dismantling of the Eastern Conference one thing is clearly apparent, virtually no one can match up with the defending champions. Look at how the playoffs have played out thus far.

A season ago, Indiana felt that their two year progression had elevated them to their foe’s level. Not having home court in the decisive seventh game last year was perceived to be the ultimate difference maker and had the Pacers owned it, perhaps they would have advanced to The Finals. Equipped with the home court advantage this year and a deeper bench featuring CJ Watson, Evan Turner and Luis Scola made absolutely no difference as the Heat reminded everyone how wide the gap is between these two teams.

In my opinion, the window of opportunity for the Pacers to dethrone the Heat has closed. When you get the chance to knock out the champs in three consecutive years and fail, then you have all but proven that your squad cannot advanced past theirs. With big money invested in the current core of Paul George, Roy Hibbert, David West, and George Hill, fans of Indiana may have to get used to finishing a distant second for years to come.

It's tough to win when the two best players on the court are usually wearing the same uniform.

It’s tough to win when the two best players on the court are usually wearing the same uniform.

If not the Pacers, then who can pose the biggest threat to Miami’s dominance? The Nets? The Bulls? The Raptors? The Wizards? As hopeful as a fan can be, do you really think your team is suited to beat the Heat come post-season? Brooklyn fans, myself included, were proud that their five-game series defeat showed that the Nets could play competitively until the Heat decided to suffocate them with their defense during the closing minutes of the game. Is that really something to hang your hat on? Sad, isn’t it?

It’s not as if time will be the ultimate equalizer and eventually this Heat team will fall off due to old age. Both LeBron James and Chris Bosh are under the age of thirty, and although Dwyane Wade has endured a lot of wear and tear over the years, he still has the ability to unleash his superstar talents when healthy. Credit the Miami coaching staff for devising a part-time work schedule during the regular season to preserve Wade’s health for the post season.

The fact that the Bosh has openly admitted that he would consider a pay cut means that Miami’s Big Three will most likely stay intact for years to come. When they initially joined forces many wondered how they would fill out the rest of the roster. As we have now seen, established players in the “back nine” of their careers are willing to play for nothing for a chance to win the title. Obviously Ray Allen could play elsewhere for more money and when he ultimately retires there will be another former star or future Hall of Famer eager to take his spot.

If anything, time is having the opposite effect of equalizing things. Any elite competition that once existed for the Heat is dying off one by one – the Celtics, the Lakers, and soon enough the Spurs once Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili call it a career.

"I can't believe they're not covering me either."

“I can’t believe they’re not covering me either.”

Out of all the team sports, basketball is the one that closely resembles an individual one in that the best player usually wins. Opposing teams in baseball can pitch around the most dangerous hitter, who only gets four chances per game to make an impact. In football, a team playing a ball control offense can strategically reduce the amount of time an opposing offense can be on the field.

In basketball, someone as dominant as LeBron can play nearly every minute and have a major influence on every offensive possession. With a healthy Wade, Miami has two players that can command a double team. Factor in the consistent open looks from Bosh and Allen and you have an unstoppable offense. Think about that for a second! A top-tier player and arguably the best pure shooters in league history are afterthoughts on most possessions!

tim duncan manu parker

No other Big Three is as battle tested to withstand Miami’s arsenal.

Miami is the varsity team playing against the JV at this point. During The Big Three era in the postseason, the Heat has accumulated 58 wins with only 25 losses—against playoff competition! If your horse in the race isn’t Miami, you have to wonder what the point of even watching is.

Some NBA fans will fantasize that Oklahoma City can defeat them in a series, but haven’t you seen enough by now to realize that there’s something lacking from the Thunder? Would you really bet on Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka over James, Wade, and Bosh if your life depended on it? I wouldn’t either.

The team that is capable of beating the champs will have their opportunity for redemption over the next few weeks. They are the ones with the championship pedigree, experience, depth, leadership. The Heat may have the best weapon(s), but the Spurs have the better army.

It’s now or never for these Spurs and a nation of desperate fans can only hope that San Antonio can win three more games.