Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Jason Kidd Growing Comfortable as Nets' Head Coach

Head coach Jason Kidd watches on the sidelines of a recent Brooklyn Nets game

The start of Jason Kidd’s coaching career was rocky to say the least. He had his fair share of embarrassing moments (“CupGate”, the demotion of top assistant Lawrence Frank, players leaving the court early on New Years’ Eve) while getting acclimated to the head coaching position. The Nets were 10-21 going into 2014, and there were points where Kidd looked completely lost on the sideline. Many pundits and fans questioned Kidd’s ability to coach, and some even called for his firing only two months into his tenure.

As the Nets have turned it around, so has the public perception of the former player turned coach. Brooklyn is 11-4 in the new year, even after losing All-Star center Brook Lopez. Without Lopez, Kidd has gone to a “small-ball” lineup, with Paul Pierce at power forward and Kevin Garnett at center. Those same fans and pundits are now praising Kidd for this decision, and the coach’s sideline demeanor has looked much different, as he looks much more comfortable.

Kidd was a guest on “The Michael Kay Show” Tuesday, and he spoke about those criticisms, among other things. Kidd’s words, according to Newsday’s Rod Boone:

"People took shots at me as a player and I didn't think it was going to change as a coach," the Nets coach said. "I love being able to coach the Brooklyn Nets. I'm enjoying coaching. I've got a great group of guys. It won't be the last time people take shots at me. But I want to do what's best for the Brooklyn Nets and those guys that are playing."

These are strong words from Kidd, who looks like he’s settling into the coaching gig.

Paul Pierce agreed with what his coach said, along with emphasizing the fact that Kidd’s comort level is growing:

"I mean, he's getting more comfortable," Pierce said after Monday night's win over the 76ers. "It's his first year ever coaching. Day in and day out, you become more at ease with it and I think he's starting to settle in to what it takes to be a head coach."

Shaun Livingston, who has excelled since being placed into the starting lineup, says Kidd has done a great job growing as a coach, and that the players look up to the rookie coach as the main leader of the Nets:

"His aggressiveness, his assertiveness," Livingston said. "I think with the lineup, with the planning, especially game-planning for teams, the way we match up with teams, and teams have to match up with us as well. He ran the point guard position. He sees it out there and I think him being more vocal has helped us as well. 
"Because even though we have leaders on our team, we still look at him as the leader when it's time to get a play call or time to get a stop. What are we doing? Are we switching? What's the game plan? So he's done a great job. You've got to give him his credit."

In the NBA, the head coach/player dynamic is one of the most important things for a successful team. Through their words, it seems the Nets’ players like Kidd, and as Kidd's comments on “The Michael Kay Show” prove, he loves being coaching the team and this group of players. Remember last month, Mirza Teletovic said he could feel Jason was becoming a really good coach and even called him “the new Gregg Popovich.” While the Popovich comparisons are far-fetched, the players’ quotes indicate the team is buying into the Kidd as the right. man for the job.
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