Ten days; that's all it took for Jason Kidd to land a coaching gig after he retired from his playing career in the NBA. Not just any coaching gig, he landed the head coaching job for the Brooklyn Nets.
Kidd led the Nets to two NBA finals during his 7-season tenure with the team (while in New Jersey). Those were the prime years of his career. During that stint, he was an All-Star 5 times, All-NBA first team member 2 times, All-NBA defensive first team member 2 times and NBA assist leader 2 times. Those years were some of the highlights of his storied, hall of fame career. This next season, he will turn in his number 5 jersey for a tailored suit. How successful will he make the transition?
During his introductory press conference, Kidd addressed that topic. He said, “Yes, I have a lot to learn about coaching, but when I played I felt I was an extension of the coach.”
At 40, Kidd is the second youngest coach in the NBA, but he demands respect because of his long, illustrious career. Being one of the top point guards in the league for the majority of his 19 season long career, Kidd became a household name. Many of the players in the NBA grew up watching and emulating his game. However, can he coach?
Has Greg Popovich ever laced up his high-tops and guarded Russell Westbrook, Steve Nash or Chris Paul? If he has, I'd love to see that YouTube video. Kidd has been in those situations and it will bode very well for him when he grabs his whistle and leads his team through preparations to play against a lot of the same opponents that he has faced for years. That sense of familiarity is unlike any other coach in the league. His experience as a point guard and leading his team on the floor will readily translate to him leading the team from the bench.
During his introductory press conference, Kidd seemed like a kid on Christmas, more like a guy that just got his dream job after retiring from his other dream job. He said he was "nervous." "I’m a rookie. I go from being one of the oldest players in the league to now a rookie coach. I’m very excited about this challenge. We have a special opportunity to achieve a championship-caliber team."
So what if this works? What happens if Kidd can lead this squad of talented players to a deep run or two in the playoffs?
This is such a copycat league and copycat society that I fully expect to see younger and younger coaches. If Kidd were to get maximum potential out of All-Star point guard Deron Williams, create more chemistry on an awkwardly constructed roster and turn this team into a serious Eastern Conference contender, there will be more teams following suit in hiring young and newly retired players. I'm not saying that the Kidd hire will end the reign of the Greg Popovichs and Phil Jacksons of the world. They are always going to go down as some of the absolute best minds to ever be part of the game. My point is that Kidd, if successful, may change the way that front offices and fans view the head coaching position.
With the tumultuous coaching climate in the NBA you can never guess what is going to happen next. Lionel Hollins led the Memphis Grizzles to their best season ever and got fired, George Karl was coach of the year and got fired and now there are rumors that Doc Rivers is looking for a change. I hope that Kidd gets a legitimate chance in Brooklyn to elevate the level of play for that underachieving franchise. Who knows, in 10 years, we may look back at this hire as the hire that started a trend towards younger, recently retired players making the transition to head coach.
Garrett Thornton is on Twitter. Follow him at @PortlandGarrett