By Gary Sussman
What….you didn’t think he could coach?
Drain the Swamp!
Wait…is this a sports site or a younger cousin of Politico?
Fear not my friends, the hardwood is the safe haven, but for all of the hoop aficionados in the Garden State and across the Hudson, that phrase was well known in the early part of the last decade, when J Kidd and his band of flying horsemen were galloping roughshod over the rest of the Eastern Conference on their way to consecutive trips to the NBA Finals. Singlehandedly, and without wearing a Hazmat suit, the point guard extraordinaire eviscerated the marshland of harmless hoop legends Vaughn, Benoit, Yinka (RIP) and Soumaila, and transformed the CAA into an oasis of flyin’, dunkin’ and defendin’ unlike anything fans (those that came) had seen from hoopsters with the NJ on the front of the jersey.
I am biased….no questions asked. But when you go from a reserved seat at the lottery to a reserved seat on press row playing the Lakers in June…. excuse my exuberance. But that was then and this is now, and with eyes wide open, a degree of inside knowledge but yet able to observe from a distance, there should be no doubt about the second career. The player who led his teams by example, who saw the court in a way only a handful could duplicate, has now reached the NBA Playoffs for the third time in his four years on the sidelines. And he was panned for spilling a soda!
The Milwaukee Bucks will travel to Toronto on Saturday for Game 1 of their first round playoff series against the favored Raptors, who were the first playoff opponent when Jason Kidd began stretching the limits of the coaching box in 2013. He has a bonafide star in Giannis Antetokounmpo, but the squad is young, lacking the knowledge of the mental rigors of playoff basketball. Which has no relation to the regular season. So I asked Jason how does he get his team to relax and focus, two of his greatest strengths as a player.
“ In our case, we have quite a few young players who haven’t experienced the playoffs, so it’s new to them,” he said. “ You can talk about it and try to explain the difference, but in the end, it’s about experiencing it firsthand.”
Cliché…but true. So let’s try to draw more water out of the Rosetta (Hoop) Stone, because the way he processes a game certainly is in a different language than that I can speak…but I think I’m in the majority on this one.
In the latter stages of your career, you worked tirelessly to make yourself into a prolific three-point shooter. Can you correlate that to any element of your coaching regiment?
“I think to be great in any walk of life, you have to be willing to put in the work. I’m a work in progress-still learning every day.”
What did you expect….Tony Robbins?
So we asked one final thought-provoking question. The sports landscape is littered with Hall of Fame players who failed as head coaches, managers, etc. Why him, how has someone with his gifts as a player been able to reach those less talented and less skilled, as well as those like the ‘Greek Freak’ who is on the cusp of basketball elite?
“Others can judge what makes someone a success for not. I’m just trying to put our players in the best possible position to succeed. Thankfully, I’ve learned from some of the greatest coaches and teammates over the years to give me that experience to draw from.”
History and experience taught me not to expect anything more…or less… from Coach Kidd. Never show your hand. I see things you don’t. Just follow my lead. His young Bucks may not win. But they’ll be ready for battle.
I saw the Governor of the Garden State was voted the worst at his position in the nation. Who votes on this stuff? Is there an age limit, or years played in the majors? That afternoon drive time radio spot looking better and better!
If Russ does not win the MVP…. does there exist another level of extreme angst he can play at?
Please raise your hand if you did not think Sergio was going south at some point on the back nine…. thought so!