May 25, 2002: The Collapse
with 8:31 left in the third quarter of Game 3 of the 2002 Eastern Conference Finals, the Nets held a 65-39 lead against the Boston Celtics, and a 21-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. The Celtics then outscored the Kidd led Nets 41-16 in the final frame for the biggest fourth-quarter playoff collapse in NBA history.
The loss was hardly Kidd's fault (12 points, 11 assist) alone, but the franchise point guard faltered down the stretch, shooting 0-7 from beyond the arc for the game, including four missed three-pointers in the final ten seconds. The Nets would go on to win the series for their first ever NBA Eastern Conference title. But we didn't know that right after the game: the win gave the Celtics a 2-1 lead in the series and left Nets fans feeling like they had been punched in the gut... Sort of like the end of his coaching tenure.
We’ve talked about Jason Kidd’s greatest Nets moments before (if you want to see those, check them out here), but with his return to Barclays Center for the first time since leaving the Nets as head coach this summer, it’s time to look at the other side of the coin.
No one can take away what Kidd meant to this franchise in his short stay, and we certainly shouldn’t minimize how awesome it was to be relevant for his brief tenure. But he came to the franchise not in free agency but in a trade, he orchestrated his departure as a player when it was convenient, and ultimately he saved the pièce de résistance of arrogance for his departure as a coach.
So good riddance to you Jason, and as the old Russian proverb goes: Don’t let the door hit you where the good lord has split you.