NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Kevin Garnett hoped that his former coach would get a nice reception from the home crowd.
Yeah, not so much.
Jason Kidd revealed a distrust of the Nets’ front office and a desire to get past his messy departure from the franchise when he returned to Brooklyn on Wednesday as coach of the Milwaukee Bucks.
It was Kidd’s first game against the team he led to two NBA Finals as a player and coached to the second round of the playoffs in 2013-14. He was loudly booed when he came onto the court and again when he was announced during pregame introductions, with a chant of “Kidd’s a traitor!” breaking out in the first quarter.
It was a reception that would have been impossible to imagine last season, when the team retired the No. 5 jersey Kidd wore during the greatest career for a Nets player since the franchise joined the NBA.
“My teammates, coaches, we did a lot for this franchise,” Kidd said before the game. “But it’s what-have-you-done-for-us-lately motto. I understand everybody has their opinion. It’s business and I work for the Milwaukee Bucks.”
He sought that job during the summer after first seeking additional power within the Nets organization. The Nets declined and eventually let him out of his contract by acquiring a couple of second-round draft picks from Milwaukee.
Kidd denied trying to get himself positioned above general manager Billy King but also said they didn’t have much of a relationship. He believes the Nets wanted to fire him in December, when they were en route to a 10-21 start.
“I think it really helped me to see what I was dealing with, what type of people I was dealing with, you know?” Kidd said.
The Nets rebounded to finish 44-38 and reach the second round of the playoffs, still far below expectations that were created when they acquired Paul Pierce and Garnett in assembling the highest payroll in NBA history.
“The veteran guys I coached last year, I had a great time with,” Kidd said. “We maybe didn’t fulfill our expectations of winning a championship, but we did come a long ways. We won a Game 7 on the road, we did a lot of good things and it was a fun journey. I respect everyone in that locker room.”
He has barely spoken about the terms of his departure and wasn’t comfortable having to do it Wednesday. He said he had spoken to some Nets players since he left and was asked about last month’s comments from owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who said the team made the trade with the Bucks because: “There is a nice proverb in English: Don’t let the door hit you where the good Lord has split you.”
“I thought it was a great quote. I’ve heard it before, so was it something new? No,” Kidd said.
Kidd was warmly welcomed back the first time he returned to face the Nets as a player following his trade to Dallas in 2008. He didn’t know, or seem to care, what the response would be Wednesday.
“As a player, you get traded, and as a coach you have the opportunity to get traded, so that’s what happens, we move on,” Kidd said. “Unfortunately one side hasn’t, but eventually both sides will move on.”
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