It’s fair to say that Jason Kidd’s career trajectory would have been different if he’d assaulted his wife after Ray Rice assaulted his.
The world has changed after the video of Rice knocking out his wife in an elevator became public. If the standards currently being applied to Rice were applied to Jason Kidd -– or if Kidd’s behavior had been caught on videotape -– you could argue the former Nets star wouldn’t be allowed to coach in the NBA.
While there’s a general awareness that Kidd was a cad, in light of a new sensitivity to spousal abuse, it’s worth re-reading the accusations from Kidd’s ex-wife, Joumana. I challenge you to read this and conclude that Jason Kidd should be leading a professional team.
Indeed, it’s difficult to read this without concluding, in hindsight, that the league, the media, and several teams – including the Brooklyn Nets – were negligent in their approach to Kidd’s behavior.
From the suit filed by Joumana Kidd, February 15, 2007 (my emphasis added):
“[Jason’s] physical abuse began shortly before the parties were to be married. Specifically, toward the end of 1996, [he] grabbed [Joumana], who is at least a foot shorter than [Jason] and approximately half his weight, by her neck and held her up against the wall choking her.”
“Toward the end of 1997, [Joumana] was upset because [Jason] stayed out all night without telling her where he was. On the next day, when [she] confronted [him] about his nocturnal absence, [Jason] shoved [her] down the stairs. As a result of this act of physical abuse, [she] sustained an injury to her arms which required her to visit the local hospital in Arizona.”
“On another occasion in 1998, while the parties were arguing, [Jason] literally threw [Joumana] across the room, causing [her] to bang her head when she landed. Thereafter, [he] brought ice to [her] and incredulously stated that he did not realize that she was so light.”
“On one occasion in or about late 1999 or early 2000, [Jason] swung a baseball bat at [Joumana], striking her several times in the arm.”
“On or about the parties’ third wedding anniversary [in 2000, Jason] struck [Joumana] with her purse knocking her unconscious. He then poured a bottle of champagne over [her] head. [She] regained consciousness after several minutes.”
“On another occasion during the summer of 2000, the parties were arguing about [Jason] having taken another woman to lunch. On this occasion, [he] cornered [Joumana] in a walk-in closet in their bedroom and repeatedly punched her in the leg causing severe bruising.”
“Toward the end of 2000, while holding a belt, [Jason] threatened to hang [Joumana] with the belt.”
“In January 2001, [Jason] again struck [Joumana], this time punching her in the mouth and causing her lip to split open. [She] recalls that during this particular month or so, [Jason] had been striking her in the face on a regular basis. Although [she] warned [him] that she would not tolerate any further abuse and would call 911 if he hit her again, [Jason] nonetheless struck her in the presence of their young son. As a result, [she] telephoned the Scottsdale, Arizona police on this occasion and Kidd was arrested.”
Kidd pleaded guilty, was fined $200 and took anger management courses.
“Unfortunately, in 2004, [Jason’s] physical abuse again escalated… When [Joumana] finally garnered the resolve to ask [him] where he had been, he responded by kicking her in the torso.”
“Perhaps the most severe acts of physical abuse that [Joumana] endured occurred during the summer of 2004. On one particular occasion while the parties were arguing, [Jason] began to choke [her]. [She], fearing for her physical safety, grabbed a candle stick which was nearby in an effort to protect herself. Due to his imposing physical size and conditioning, [he] was able to overpower [her]. He grabbed her hand which held the instrument and used it to strike her forcefully in the forehead. As a result, [she] sustained a head injury and was compelled again to seek medical treatment. On this occasion, [she] was advised that she had sustained a slight concussion.”
While sitting in a car in the summer of 2004, “a typical dispute arose over [Jason’s] ongoing lying and [he] became enraged. He grabbed [her] by the back of her head and repeatedly smashed her head into the middle console of the car. Here, too, on this occasion, [she] was compelled to seek medical treatment. As a result of [his] attack, [she] sustained damage to her right eardrum, which necessitated a procedure to insert tubes into her ear, and hearing loss.”
On or about October 12, 2004, “While in their car, [Jason] began screaming at [Joumana]. During the course of his tirade, [he] backhanded [her] in the face, causing her to sustain another split lip…. She attended her son’s birthday party with a swollen lip which was visible to the attendees at the party.”
She convinced him to become more involved in their church and was encouraged that he seemed to become more committed to Christianity. But, she said, it didn’t last.
“In or about the beginning of 2005… [Jason] once again kicked [Joumana] in the stomach. The next day [she] was terribly distressed to learn there was blood in her urine. She was also coughing up blood. When she alerted [him], he icily responded ‘I don’t give a f—k.’ ”
In early 2006, “[Jason] forcefully threw a wooden brush at [Joumana] as she was walking away from him during an argument, hitting her in the back and causing her severe bruising. [He] then followed [her] from room to room, taunting her as she was crying from the pain.”
“In mid-2006, [Jason] twisted [Joumana’s] arm, which caused a sprain. Thereafter, in or about September 2006 during an argument, [Jason] threw a basketball at [her] face.”
Around October 30, 2006, Jason “became enraged and pushed [Joumana] forcefully, causing her to fall into their son. Both [she] and the boy fell to the floor. [He] then left the room and, as [she] went to follow him, [he] slammed the door on her hand and held it closed, causing [her] severe pain. Thereafter, the parties’ argument continued into the backyard. At one point, [he] picked up a rock the size of a football and hurled it toward [her] face. Fortunately, [she] raised her arm in front of her face to protect herself and the rock struck her arm. [Her] arm swelled tremendously. [He] sarcastically advised [her], ‘you should probably go have that looked at’ and then took a nap.”
Chillingly, she claims that he taunted her about his ability to get away with his behavior.
“[Jason] frequently warned [Joumana] not to expose his abuse by saying, ‘At the end of the day, I will always have the last word.’ ‘Who are people going to believe, you or me? Think about it.’ And ‘whatever I do in my life, I will always land on my feet like a cat.’”
It should be said that her claims were made during a divorce. He filed suit against her too, claiming that she hit him, threatened to concoct false domestic abuse claims, was “controlling and manipulative,” and become “jealous and paranoid.”
Not all accusations of domestic abuse are true, and celebrities sometimes are victims of false claims. And since charges were only filed in one case, there has been no official adjudication of the other claims. Perhaps the Arizona assault was entirely anomalous and all of these others incidents she detailed are total fabrications. And after their divorce, she reported that they now have a cordial relationship and Kidd is now in a second marriage.
But Kidd did plead guilty to one of the cases. He’s continued to have drinking problems, which, she claimed, were often at the root of his violence. And the detailed and voluminous nature of her charges – and the frequency of the alleged incidents – at a minimum raise many questions.
During the Ray Rice case, it was asserted that the NFL should have taken more proactive steps to determine whether accusations of domestic violence were true.
With that in mind:
The incident in which Kidd pleaded guilty to domestic violence was in 2001. This document was filed and become public in February, 2007. Since 2007, Jason Kidd played for the New Jersey Nets, the Dallas Mavericks and the New York Knicks. Then, the Brooklyn Nets hired him in 2013 to be their coach, and the Milwaukee Bucks did so this year.
Did any of these five teams investigate these claims to see if they had merit before signing him?
Did the Brooklyn Nets? Did Billy King or Michael Prokhorov ever read Joumana’s statements? Did they ask Kidd or Joumana about them?
Why did the league never penalize Jason in any way at any point for this – and what does this say about the NBA’s lax standards on domestic violence?
For that matter, the sports media, including we at The Brooklyn Game, should do some reflecting on whether we pursued these questions sufficiently.
Oh, to be fair, Kidd has received some punishment. He was fined last season — for getting a player to spill coke on him. Who says Jason Kidd always gets away with everything?