Jason Kidd’s selfish moves proving more and more justified by the game.
Swapping the Nets for the Bucks may have looked like a backward step at one stage, but not anymore.
Fairytales don’t always run their course and if anything in the NBA proved it recently, it was Jason Kidd’s first return to the Brooklyn Nets as an opposing coach.
Last season, Brooklyn thought they had made the ultimate Disney move in hiring iconic Nets point guard Kidd as their leader and the man charged with sending them up the NBA rankings. Back when the franchise traded under their New Jersey prefix, Kidd spent seven years with the club, turning a side that had only reached the postseason once in the previous seven years without him into one that only missed it once during his time there.
Back then the Nets reached the NBA Finals twice, although they never leapt the final hurdle, and Kidd filled his mantelpiece with awards and accolades. But he was never conventional. A pass-first point guard that could rebound like a forward, with a jerky jump shot at first glance, Kidd was not the archetypal PG, yet he retired with little doubt in the league’s mind that he was one of the best to ever play the position.
His quirks continued into his coaching career, mainly because he became only the third guy – and first since 1990/91 – to debut as a coach in the season immediately following his playing retirement. His competitive playing nature wasn’t allowed to dwindle in a spell away from the game as a result.
If his “hit me” drink-spill stunt wasn’t a sign that Kidd was willing to do anything to win, then the power play he pulled, but failed with, at Brooklyn was confirmation.
Kidd’s first season in charge of the Nets was a middle-of-the-road affair, reaching the second round of the playoffs after a bumpy start born out of the wholesale changes made to the team in the offseason.
Unhappy with a roster full of stars, albeit ageing ones, and with the steepest pay grade in the league, Kidd pitched himself to Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov to take over all basketball operations for the Nets. He wanted to acquire the players of his choosing, then coach them.
The Nets rejected his advances and entered into trade discussions with the Bucks soon after. 15 days after the 2013/14 season ended, the pair sealed a trade that sent Kidd to Milwaukee for two second-round draft picks, but only in a head-coach capacity. The fairytale was over, and in bitter, dramatic fashion.
In an instant, Kidd had swapped an elderly, overpaid roster for a bunch of athletic, young guys hungry to make their way in the game.
If his decision was starting to look good before his Barclays Center return, then the triple-overtime win the men in green secured on Wednesday night confirmed it.
Spurred on by the resounding boos their new head coach received from his old family during introductions, the Bucks never quit on a game that was the second of a back-to-back schedule. They resurfaced from Brandon Knight botching a wide-open layup to win at the dying embers of 1OT, only for the same player to hit a last-gasp three to prevent a loss in the next period.
What’s clear is that these Bucks, led by a core of players with huge potential like Knight, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker, have guts.
Sat fourth in the Eastern Conference with a 7-5 record, they hold a far better position than the 4-7 Nets, who have now lost five games in a row.
And at the heart of it all is Kidd, doing what he did best as a New Jersey Net, making the unheralded perform better.