By Jason Keidel
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A few folks have a very high opinion of Jason Kidd. Most notably, Jason Kidd.
The now-former Nets coach is being shipped to the Milwaukee Bucks for two low-rent draft picks. Milwaukee, of course, is the land of the fictional show “Happy Days” and the has more morbid reality of being a basketball cemetery for title dreams.
Most importantly, Kidd’s reputation as a coach killer remains renowned. Just ask Larry Drew, who two days ago thought he was about to coach Jabari Parker and the rest of the perhaps resurgent Bucks back to NBA eminence.
But Kidd had other plans, and rather grandiose ideas about himself.
Before the ink dried on Kidd’s retirement papers, the Nets gave him a chance to coach their team when no other would. He spent no time on any pine, grinding his way up the NBA ladder, paying his dues as a film geek with a whistle around his neck for just one practice.
The word is that Kidd, based on 44 wins last season with the most expensive roster in the NBA, felt he deserved the keys to the kingdom, everything but the ownership suite. There is no doubt Kidd overcame a wretched start — 10 games under .500 in December — but a first-round playoff series win against a Toronto Raptors team that hasn’t been relevant since real raptors roamed the continent doesn’t exactly make Kidd morph into Red Auerbach.
This is the essence of hubris. The cliche says a little knowledge can do a lot of harm. Applied to Kidd, one season with his wide nostrils barely above the .500 waters has made his ego more swollen than before he coached his first game,
Pat Riley left the Knicks after four titles with the Lakers and a miraculous effort remolding the moribund Knikcs into contenders, a few John Starks jumpers from actually winning the elusive ring they’ve sought since ’73. Riley earned the long line of stars on his lapels.
Kidd has done what, exactly? Fliied the air in the ball and handed it to two or three Hall of Famers (if Deron WIlliams remembers who is). And even then the Nets squeaked by the Raptors in the first round before the depleted Heat scorched them in the second round.
And now Kidd heads up to the snow-capped basketball wasteland called Milwaukee, where a title hasn’t been seen since some guy named Alcindor was perfecting his sky hook and a graybeard named the Big O was schooling the rest on his season-long average of triple-doubles.
Maybe Kidd seeks the more muted media tones of Wisconsin, and knew with the Nets’ geriatric roster, things would get a little worse before they got better. But it’s still Brooklyn, still the Big Apple, and he is a local icon for a team that so needed a gold-plated avatar.
Ambition needs no excuses or explanations, so Kidd doesn’t really have to justify his desire to coach somewhere else. But it would be nice to know why he suddenly thinks he discovered governing dynamics and earned his time and face at any time and place. Kidd was a great player, but the jury hasn’t even been formed on his coaching wares.
It’s not the idea that he hopped from point guard to head coach, sans a few rounds under the lateral cone of a projector’s light. A few coaches have done that recently, with decent success, like Mark Jackson. But to expect to be the universal arbiter of personnel decisions after one mediocre debut is a little exorbitant, even with someone as confident as Kidd, who’s self-confidence has quickly morphed into self righteousness.
There’s an almost humorous hue to arrogance. Wait your turn Jason Kidd. No Kidding.
Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel
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