BY MAGGIE HAYES & TERENCE M. CULLEN
Famed NBA player Jason Kidd couldn’t stay away from the game for long. Roughly a week after he announced his retirement, the Brooklyn Nets hired Kidd as its next head coach.
“The game of basketball has been great to me,” Kidd said. “In my heart, this was the thing to do after 19 years [playing].”
But Kidd, known for being a smart, team-oriented player, said his decision to coach “didn’t happen overnight.”
“Later in my career, I was trying to set myself up for later being in the position to become a coach,” he said. “Hopefully I can rely on the experience I’ve had as a player, and also my staff.”
As a player, Kidd was a ten-time NBA All Star, five-time NBA first team member and named to the all-defensive team nine times.
The California native played in college for the California Golden Bears and in 1994 was the first-round draft pick for the Dallas Mavericks. In his first season with the Mavericks, he was named the NBA’s Rookie of the Year.
After two years with the Mavericks, he was traded to the Phoenix Suns and then played with the then New Jersey Nets from 2001 to 2008. With the Nets, he visited the NBA Finals twice but came back defeated. He was traded back to the Mavericks and ended his career with the New York Knicks.
Now, as head coach, Kidd knows what it takes to win a championship.
“You can’t win a championship if you don’t play defense, and that’s where we’re going to start,” he said. “The vision is to win.”
“I understand when a player’s hot, you’ve got to give them the ball,” he said.
As a longtime player, Kidd said he was very fortunate to play for “great coaches” he could “take little things from.” Now running a team himself, he’s ready to put his players “in a position to be successful.”
“Guys have to be patient and listen,” he said. “I was a player, and I felt like I knew everything.”
When asked about the Knicks-Nets rivalry, Kidd said he thinks it’s great for the city.
“Hopefully the Brooklyn Nets get the upper hand at the end of the day,” he said.