Jason Kidd was a star for the Nets through the 2000s.
(Photo: Jack Gruber, USA TODAY Sports)
(USATODAY.com) - Jason Kidd jumped from playing to coaching in less than two weeks.
The Brooklyn Nets named Kidd their coach Wednesday in a rare and speedy transition from uniform to suit.
"This is a tremendous opportunity to be named head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, and it's a role I have been studying for over the course of my playing days," Kidd said in a news release. "Championship teams are built on being prepared, playing unselfishly and being held accountable, and that's how I expect to coach this basketball team. I am truly excited about this next phase of my basketball career."
Kidd, who had a stellar 19-year NBA career, retired from the New York Knicks on June 3 and quickly set his sights on the Nets' job, convincing general manager Billy King he is the right person at the right time.
"Jason is a proven winner and leader with an incredible wealth of basketball knowledge and experience," King said in a news release. "This will be a natural transition for him to move into the role of head coach, as he embodies the tough, smart and team-first mentality that we are trying to establish in Brooklyn."
The choice also has the support of Nets point guard Deron Williams, who is friends with Kidd.
Indiana Pacers assistant coach Brian Shaw interviewed for the job Wednesday, but King decided on Kidd, who played 6½ seasons with the Nets in the early and mid-2000s.
Kidd made the then-New Jersey Nets relevant, leading them to two Eastern Conference championships. They lost in the NBA Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2002 and the San Antonio Spurs in 2003.
"Jason Kidd has a long and legendary history with the Nets and with the city of New York," Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov said in a statement. "He has the fire in the belly we need and has achieved as a player everything the Brooklyn Nets are striving to achieve. We believe he will lead us there. Welcome home, Jason."
Earlier Wednesday, ABC/ESPN analyst and Hall of Famer Magic Johnson voiced his support for Kidd.
"I think he'll do a great job," Johnson said. "We have seen Mark Jackson do a wonderful job with Golden State, and if his heart is into it and if he's willing to put in the work, because what he won't understand, it's going to take more work than it did as a player."
Kidd is making the unusual step of going straight from playing into a head coaching job. But it is obvious Kidd wanted the job. Just days after he retired, he began reaching out to potential assistant coaches.
Avery Johnson retired in 2004, took a job as an assistant with the Dallas Mavericks in 2004-05 and became head coach later that season.
But most NBA players-turned-coaches waited a few seasons before they became head coaches. Mike Dunleavy Sr. unofficially retired in 1985, took time off from basketball and returned as an assistant in 1986 before becoming head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers in 1990. Doc Rivers retired in 1996 and became Orlando Magic coach in 1999.
HIRED: Ewing joins old friend Jordan in Charlotte
HIRED 2: Pistons nab their own point-guard coach
Kidd has a high basketball IQ and was considered a coach on the floor. But it is not clear how that will translate from player to coach. Johnson recalls being frustrated during his 16-game run as Lakers coach in 1993-94.
"I understood how hard it is for coaches," Johnson said. "I stayed up all day and all night going over game plans and watching film, and I couldn't even sleep. I'm thinking about the changes that I want to make, all the different plays I want to run against the different teams, so I gained a lot more respect for coaches than I had before.
"Nick Van Exel was our point guard, and I used to holler, 'He's open, he's open, he's open!'
"So by the third game in, Michael Cooper, my assistant coach, pulled me aside and said, 'Earvin, he can't see like you, so you've got to quit hollering that he's open, because you can see it but he can't see it.'
"I think that he's going to have to understand that guys are not going to be able to play like him, maybe be dedicated like he was or he can't expect everybody to be great like him, and so that will be his biggest challenge."
Communication will be key for Kidd, who is second on the NBA's all-time assist list with 12,091.