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.
January 27, 2004: Byron Scott Fired
The Nets fired Byron Scott, who had taken the franchise to back-to-back NBA finals, after a disappointing 22-20 start to the 2003-04 campaign. Scott had supposedly lost the locker room, especially Kidd. The Nets floor-general reportedly cursed out Scott in the locker room after a loss, and demanded then-GM Rod Thorn fire Scott. Kidd the player’s demand to his Nets GM worked a little better than Kidd the coach’s ultimatum to his Nets GM.
Then-assistant Lawrence Frank took over coaching duties and turned New Jersey’s season around, with a 13-game winning streak to start his tenure. Frank would hold the Nets head spot for five-plus seasons, but would not get the Kidd-led troops back to the Eastern Conference Finals, let alone another NBA finals.
The “coach-killer” label would stick with Kidd even into his coaching days. As for the current Lakers coach relationship with Kidd? As recently as December 2013 Scott said, “..he’s not inviting me to his house for dinner and I’m not inviting him to my house for dinner.”
January 2007: The Divorce
In January 2007, Jason Kidd filed for divorce from Joumana Kidd, his wife of 10 years, citing “extreme cruelty” on the part of his spouse. What ensued was a public battle in which Kidd portrayed his ex-wife as a paranoid, vitriolic partner, and Joumana portrayed the point guard as a serial adulterer and physically abusive spouse. A 2001 domestic violence case in Phoenix in which Jason pleaded guilty is considered at least part of the impetus for the Suns trading their franchise player to New Jersey.
Joumana reportedly had their adorable son T.J. — a courtside seat fixture at the Meadowlands — steal Kidd’s phone from the locker room during a game to uncover his extra-curricular activities. Regardless of his ex-wife’s character or lack thereof, it’s safe to say Kidd was not only a terrible husband, but a criminal one.
December 5, 2007: The Fake Migraine
As Kidd saw the team he helped build in New Jersey start to deteriorate, he reportedly demanded a trade or contract extension to reward him for sticking around a bad situation. The tensions culminated in a December 5, 2007 loss to the crosstown Knicks, when Kidd sat out for what was ostensibly a “migraine”. Reports then came out that Kidd was actually healthy, but sat out the game to protest his then-contract situation. #5 always knows how to look out for numero uno.
Kidd was traded to Dallas a little more than two months later, and the Nets finished on the outside looking in at the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons. Within two years, they were the laughingstock of the league again, setting the record for the worst start to an NBA season at 0-18. During that 18-game losing streak, Lawrence Frank, the coach Kidd had helped put in power, was fired. And the team that beat the Nets in that 18th game to set the record? None other than Jason Kidd’s Mavericks. Le sigh.
October 17, 2013: The Jersey Retirement
What could be so bad or infamous about a jersey retirement? Notice the date on that ceremony. The Nets needed to lift #5 to the Barclays rafters in a pre-game ceremony for a pre-season game against the Miami Heat, because Kidd started his coaching tenure serving a two-game suspension for a DUI from his last year as a player with the Knicks.
During the ceremony, Kidd said that the only way he knew how to play the game was hard and that he couldn’t have done it without his teammates. On the court, sure. But off the court, Kidd knows how live to life only one way: selfishly. He couldn’t do it without himself.
November 27, 2014: Spillgate
This one is more entertaining than infamous, but it makes the list for Kidd’s lack of tact. With the timeout-less Nets down 96-94 and the Lakers at the line, Kidd can clearly be seen on camera telling Tyshawn Taylor to “hit” him. Taylor bumped into the Nets coach, causing him to spill his soda, which resulted in a stoppage to clean up the spill. The Nets used this time to draw up a play, which ended up giving Paul Pierce a decent look at a three which he missed and the Nets lost 99-94.
Thanks to the marvels of modern technology and slow-motion, high-definition replay, we all had some fun with this, and the league fined Kidd $50,000 for another drinking problem. Former Nets coach Byron Scott thought Kidd should have been fined $100,000 for the incident. He’s completely unbiased, right?
December 3, 2013: Lawrence Frank’s Demotion
Part of Jason Kidd’s strategy to offset his neophyte status as an NBA coach was to hire experienced assistant coaches to fill out his staff. As lead assistant, he chose his former Nets coach, Lawrence Frank, who was a very vocal figure on the bench in the early 2013-14 season.
A little too vocal, apparently. Kidd reportedly told Frank to “Sit the F*** down!” in one heated exchange, and “I’m the coach of this motherf***ing team!”. Frictions grew as Frank was reportedly upset that Kidd chose assistant Joe Prunty to serve as coach during Kidd’s DUI suspension instead of Frank.
Mired in a 5-12 start, Kidd removed Frank from the bench and demoted him to a position where he wrote “daily reports” for the team, and had no involvement with practices.
The Nets bought out Frank this past September, and he is now a member of Doc Rivers’ Los Angeles Clippers coaching staff. Technically, Frank lasted longer as a Nets assistant than Kidd did as Nets head coach.
June 30, 2014: The Trade to Milwaukee
In late June, Jason Kidd had made a failed pitch to Nets management to give him personnel power over GM Billy King, in addition to coaching powers, according to the New York Post. By the end of the month, Kidd was officially on his way to become the next Milwaukee Bucks coach, in exchange for second-round picks in 2015 and 2019.
There’s a lot to dissect here, from Kidd’s ridiculous hubris, his relationship with Bucks minority owner Marc Larsy, and his targeting Larry Drew’s job, but sometimes as jilted lover you just need to move on once you’ve vented. The trade to Milwaukee was certainly a shocker in terms of the timing and the details, but should we really be surprised by the underlying actions and motivations of Jason Kidd?